Widely acknowledged as the “king of spices,” pepper has had a far-reaching effect on commerce, voyages of discovery, cultures and cuisines throughout history. During the Middle Ages, it was often used as a form of currency between tenants and landlords. It was also a major motivating factor in Columbus’ voyage to the New World and led to the subsequent misnaming of the allspice berry as the ‘Jamaica Pepper’ or pimenta.
There are three different types of peppercorns. Green Peppercorns are the unripe fruit of the pepper vine (Piper nigrum). They are picked and dried before they mature into black peppercorns. Green Peppercorns are the spiciest of all the peppercorns and can be used in place of black pepper if you like that little extra kick.
Black Peppercorns are the dried, mature fruit of the pepper vine (Piper nigrum) and are by far the most popular form of pepper. There pungent flavor and lingering heat is great for almost any recipe. Put in your pepper mill, coarsely grind them, or add whole to many sauces or slow cooking dishes.
White peppercorns are actually black peppercorns that have been soaked in water and the outer black skin removed. White pepper has a mild, subtle flavor that works well with chicken, fish, white sauces, and Asia cuisine.