The fresh, herbaceous flavor of green pepper is great for seasoning fruit and desserts. Picking the peppercorns when they are still unripe and green in color is the secret to producing green rather than black pepper.
Green Pepper as a Spice
Unlike white pepper and black pepper, green pepper is harvested when the berries are not yet ripe. The color of the pepper is due to when the berries are harvested and how they are processed — it has nothing to do with different species of the pepper plant. As the berries are harvested early on, green pepper has an especially fresh and slightly fruity flavor. It is also the mildest of all the peppercorn varieties. While searching for pepper, Christopher Columbus landed in the Caribbean in 1492 and “discovered” America. Instead of bringing pepper back to Europe with him, he brought back new hot spices such as chili and allspice.
Whole green peppercorns are ideal for rounding off the flavor of sauces and marinades. They also give chutneys their characteristic spicy flavor. As well as savory dishes, green pepper tastes delicious in desserts such as fruit salads and fruitcake because it compliments the flavor of honey. The same rule applies to green pepper as for other types of pepper: It should be ground fresh when possible as it quickly loses its flavor. If the pepper is being added to a dish that will be roasted, it’s best to add whole peppercorns so that they roast evenly — this method also prevents the pepper from losing its flavor during long periods of cooking.
Whole green peppercorns also add a nice esthetic touch to dishes. Cooking the peppercorns in liquid for around 30 minutes softens them so they can be eaten whole.
The pepper plant is a shrub that can grow to up to four meters tall. Originally native to Malabar in western India, today the pepper plant is grown mainly in Indonesia, India, Vietnam and Brazil. The fruits on this evergreen plant are harvested twice a year. Green pepper is produced from peppercorns that are harvested from the infructescence when still unripe and before their heat has fully developed. Preserving the green peppercorns in brine or drying them quickly prevents them from fermenting, allowing them to retain their mild, herbaceous flavor.
- Scientific Name
- Piper nigrum
- Pepper family (Piperaceae)