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What is Black Pepper?

black pepper spice


Black pepper is the sun-dried berries of a flowering vine of the peppercorn plant and is the most used spice in the world.

What does black pepper taste like?

Black pepper is a rich smoky savory spice, while the aroma is a sharp pungent perfume with floral notes.

Where does black pepper come from?

Black pepper or piper nigrum is a tiny berry in the family Piperaceae. Native to Southern India black pepper is now produced throughout South America and Asia and used by every region of the world. 

Black Pepper Uses

Black peppercorns are dried then cooked to preserve the berry and their flavor is released when crushed, ground or heated. 

Peppercorns can be kept whole for a slow release of their floral spice and removed before serving. 

Freshly ground black pepper releases the spice instantly to finish dishes such as pasta, salad, cheese, tomato sauces, meats, soups, stews, marinades and spice rubs. 

The spice and warmth of black pepper can also be paired with sweet dishes such as jams, syrups and cakes.

Black Pepper Substitutes 

  • White pepper: more subtle in flavor and spice but derived from black pepper so very similar in flavor profile.
  • Grains of paradise: a spice with notes of pepper and citrus.

Black Pepper Compliments and Pairings 

Black peppercorn can pair broudly with almost any ingredient, to name a few it compliments cheese, beef, poultry, red meat, eggs, tomato, potato, berries, mint, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, juniper, fruit, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and honey.

Black Pepper Expiration and Storage

  • Whole: store in an airtight container away from direct light and moisture for two to three years.
  • Ground: weaker in flavor and spice, store in an airtight container away from direct light and moisture for two to three years.

Fun Facts About Black Pepper 

  • Black pepper first came to popularity as a method of preserving meats.
  • Vietnam is the world’s largest producer of black pepper.
  • In the 16th century black pepper was known as the ‘King of Spices’ and‘Black Gold’, the spice was so sought after that it was more valuable than the precious metal.

Popular Black Pepper Recipes

  • Black pepper beef stir-fry
  • Potato gratin
  • Black pepper, coffee and chocolate mousse 
  • Gin and tonic with black pepper tincture
  • Kampot pepper crab
  • Beef baked in yogurt and black pepper
  • Salt and pepper squid
  • Strawberries with balsamic and black pepper
  • Cacio e Pepe

Chef Max

Michelin trained professional chef with a passion for recipe writing and all things food. I have worked for over five years at top restaurants across the UK and have gained an ability to create any recipe you desire, from comfort food recipes to fine dining recipes. My experience in food writing includes a placement at Delicious Magazine which involved feature writing, recipe testing, article research, and content creation.

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