Peppercorn FAQ


What is a peppercorn?

A true peppercorn is the dried berry of Piper nigrum. Three of the peppers in our blend–the black, green, and white peppercorns–come from Piper nigrum, while the pink peppercorn and allspice berries come from other plants. See pages 5, 6,  and 7 for more details.

Why are peppers and peppercorns both called “pepper”?

There are many ingredients that use the word “pepper” in the name. This overlapping nomenclature stems primarily from analogies drawn during the colonization of the Americas. 

Why are there different colors of peppercorn?

Peppercorn is harvested during various stages of ripeness and processed differently, producing green, black, and true red peppercorn (our blend does not contain true red peppercorns). See page 5 for a more detailed summary of how peppercorns are processed, and see page 15 for how the flavors work together in this peppercorn blend.

Should I buy pre-ground pepper or fresh peppercorn?

The fresher the pepper grinding, the better the taste. Though pre-ground pepper is sold for convenience, whole peppercorns ground fresh is a far superior flavor experience–and the whole peppercorn will retain its flavor longer. See pages 12 and 13 for tools and techniques for cracking or grinding pepper.

Which pepper is hotter?

Ounce for ounce, pepper with the outer husk removed contains more piperine–up to 8% more in certain cases. This is the substance that gives pepper its heat, therefore, technically, white pepper is “hotter.” For more information on the different flavor profiles of peppercorn varieties, see page 15.

What is Tellicherry Pepper?

Contrary to popular belief, “Tellicherry” does not mean it was grown in Tellicherry, India. Though the title references the famous spice city, “Tellicherry peppercorn” refers to the size of the peppercorn. They are much larger than standard black pepper. Culinarily, Tellicherry pepper will be less hot and more aromatic than a smaller peppercorns.

You may see a label “Special Extra Bold,” or “Extra Bold Tellicherry Peppercorns.” This means that the peppercorns are an even larger grade than regular Tellicherry, and will impart a highly aromatic, relatively mellow flavor.

How long does pepper last?

Peppercorn, as with most spices, loses its flavor quickly when it is ground. Pepper should be ground as close as possible to the consumption of a dish to get the maximum flavor. Pre-ground pepper lose its flavor in 11-14 months (up to 2 years), while whole peppercorn will retain its flavor for 3-4 years.

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