White pepper, black pepper, whole green pepper and red pepper are all fruits of the same plant. This is a creeping plant with branches and leaves that grows 8-10 meters tall in tropical lands with a warm and humid climate. Today, besides its homeland of South India it is generally cultivated in a range of different lands from Indonesia to Brazil, where tropical climate rules. Peppercorns of different color are produced depending on the time this fruit is picked and the drying process. To produce white pepper, the fruits are picked right before they become ripe or when they turn from green to a yellowish or reddish color. The fruits are kept in water so that their shells soften and loosen. Afterwards, when these shells are completely removed and dried, the end result is white pepper.
The main factor that determines the aroma of fresh peppers is the amount of evaporative oil it contains. With black pepper, this oil is more intense and therefore, the taste is bitter and sharp. As white pepper is stripped of its shell, which is oilier, it has a lighter aroma and a less bitter taste when compared to black pepper. However, it ultimately has a sharp bitterness that leaves a sweetish flavor on the palate.
White pepper is generally used in white and creamy sauces such as béchamel and pasta sauces, as well as cream-soups and purees of light colored vegetables such as potatoes and cauliflower. This way, the smooth texture and colors of these sauces, soups and purees are preserved.
Mixing white pepper with only black pepper or black pepper, green pepper and red pepper, you can create peppercorn mixes, offering different aromas. These mixes add a unique aroma and flavor to different kinds of meat such as beef, chicken, turkey and fish as well as meat-free vegetable dishes. It is also a great taste agent for marinating.
If you add white pepper to beef broth or soups along with black pepper, you can create a richer, warmer and a slightly bitter taste.
White peppercorn preserves its aroma for a longer time. You can buy it as peppercorn and grind it with a pepper mill at your own home. Or you can purchase ground white pepper and keep it in an airtight jar with a tight lid. Do not forget to purchase it in small quantities you can consume immediately, when buying ground white peppers.
You can prepare a spice bundle by wrapping a few branches of fresh thyme, a bay leaf, 2 branches of parsley and 3-4 white peppercorns in a clean piece of cheesecloth. When making soup, beef broth or other kinds of stews, you can put this bundle in the pot and infuse the rich aroma from the aromatic herbs and peppercorns into your meal. When cooking is done, do not forget to remove the bundle.