A Guide to Pepper

A Guide to Pepper

Black, white, red, and green peppercorns are all fruits of the same evergreen climbing vine, harvested at different times and handled in different ways.

Pepper originates from a simple vine growing off of India's Malabar coast and today, it's cultivated in Malabar, other areas of India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil, and Madagascar.

The two main varieties, classified by where they're grown on the Malabar coast, are Malabar and Tellicherry. Tellicherry is considered the best and largest of the two berries. Malabar is the most common of the two, with an arguably better, fruitier flavor. Tellicherry is of higher quality, with sweet, citrus notes.

image of peppercorns

A Quick Guide to Peppercorns


Slightly sweet with notes of citrus and a slightly hot finish

Note: Harvested when green, then fermented and dried.


Herbaceous and fresh with mild heat

Note: Harvested before ripe and either packed in brine or dried.


Scents of citrus with a touch of sweetness

Note: Rare and expensive, left on vine the longest to fully ripen


Earthy and herbaceous with mild heat
Note: Don't buy white pepper if peppercorns are brown or gray


image of pepper vine


Though humble in origin, pepper has been the reason for lengthy sailing expeditions, drawn-out wars, and the carving out of trade routes throughout history. 

At one point in time, pepper was used to pay taxes and traded for gold.

Along with salt, pepper is the most continuously used spice in the world, with endless applications. 


Recipe Ideas

image of peppercorns

1. In a blender, purée black peppercorns with olive oil to make a pepper paste for cooked pasta and grains. 

2. Sprinkle ground white pepper on boiled potatoes and serve with sour cream and smoked haddock.

3. Sprinkle ground green peppercorns on sliced seedless green grapes, and serve with grilled lamb chops. 

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