Can you imagine a spice shelf without black pepper? For thousands of years, mankind has given this spice one of the leading roles in cooking. Black pepper has become a secret agent of flavor in quite different cultures. The perfect harmony it creates with almost all meals and the dazzling pleasure its rich taste builds on the palate has rendered it essential in the kitchen.
Black pepper likes tropical lands with a warm and humid climate. Beside its native land of South India, it is grown in other places with a tropical climate, such as Indonesia and Brazil. It is produced from the fruits of a creeping plant with branches and leaves. This plant can grow up to 8-10 meters tall. As sisters of black pepper, white, green and red peppers are all the fruits of the same plant. The difference is in the time of picking and the method of drying. If the fruits are picked when they’re green and fermented after the drying process, the product is black pepper. If they are picked when they turn from green to red and dried after their shell is shed in water, they become white pepper. If unripe green fruits are picked and swiftly put through a special process of dehydration, what we get is green pepper.
Black pepper has a special character that can never remain in the background. Its striking sharp taste and powerful aroma occasionally has notes of pine and citrus. Its warming affect is one of its principal features. Black pepper brings depth to meals and helps to sense different tastes more clearly on the palate.
On the bitterness scale, black pepper leads the way. Right after black pepper comes white pepper. Green pepper has a much softer taste and a slight bitterness in the background.
High quality black pepper should have same-colored grains and a balanced taste. The darker pepper grains are, the more intense its aroma is.
Black pepper brings a unique aroma and flavor to meat dishes such as red meat, chicken, turkey and fish as well as vegetable dishes cooked with or without any meat. With salt and black pepper, you can give flavor to meat meals right before you start to cook them. Also, you can marinate your meat overnight by preparing a sauce with black pepper and your preferred spices.
When making beef broth or soup, try using a few whole peppercorns along with aromatic herbs. You will create a richer, warming and slightly bitter flavor. With its unique flavor and aroma, black pepper will be your faithful friend, helping you achieve great tastes through a wide range of dishes from pickles to beef broth and from soup to desserts. Black pepper in desserts? Yes. Next time you make a fruit tart or bake cookies do not forget to add a pinch of black pepper. Note the difference you sense.
To guarantee the best taste, try using freshly ground black pepper. This will make the aroma much more intense and give you a much more pleasant experience.
If you add black pepper to your meal right before you take the pot off the stove, you preserve the aroma’s intensity and it will not fade away quickly. You can give flavor to pasta, soup and pilaf by adding freshly ground black pepper right after serving.
Try to use white pepper with white sauces and soups. This way you can preserve the whiteness of your sauce or soup.
You can prepare a bouquet garni (spice bundle) by wrapping a few branches of thyme, a single bay leaf, 2 branches of parsley and 3-4 whole black peppercorns in a piece of cheesecloth. When cooking beef broth, casseroles and other kind of stews, you can put this bouquet in the pot and the rich flavor from these aromatic herbs and black pepper will reveal themselves in your meal. When cooking is done, do not forget to remove the bouquet from the pot.
With freshly ground black pepper and a few more simple ingredients you can prepare delicious dip sauce, which will go well with chips and fried food. Mix 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise, 3 tablespoons of yoghurt, 2 tablespoons of diced chive, 2 teaspoons of freshly grounded black pepper and half a teaspoon of salt. You dip sauce is ready.