Pink berries are often thought to be a type of pepper because of their appearance. However, they differ in terms of their flavor and their botanical origin.
Pink Berries as a Spice
Unlike pepper, pea-sized pink berries are not spicy. Their sweetly aromatic, slightly woody flavor and turpentine-like aroma is akin to juniper. Although they have a different taste, they were used as a substitute for pepper until the 1960s. Pink berries are particularly popular in nouvelle cuisine on account of their delicious flavor and their bright red shell. This type of cuisine is all about preserving the original flavor of the food while presenting the dishes in an attractive manner.
The distinctive flavor of pink berries is used to enhance seafood, poultry, vegetables and light sauces — not forgetting desserts and chocolate. Drinks and cocktails, fruit punches and gin and tonics also come alive with the addition of these berries. The fruits are not just available in dried form, but occasionally also pickled in brine. Pink berries only release their flavor when crushed or ground: Untouched, they are merely a decorative addition. The flavor of pink berries is not resistant to heat, so it is best to add them shortly before serving. They should also be used sparingly.
Pink peppercorns can also be eaten whole. Unlike pepper, pink peppercorns are not hard and firm.
Contrary to what its name suggests, the Brazilian peppertree that pink berries come from is not related to pepper. It actually belongs to the cashew family like the mango tree. The evergreen tree requires very little care and is therefore a popular ornamental shrub, particularly in Italy. It grows to up to 9 meters tall and today is grown mainly on Réunion and in Brazil. The plant arrived in Europe from Brazil for the first time in the 16th century, and its pink berries were used as a substitute for pepper until the 1960s. Even today, they often make a colorful addition to mixed pepper blends.
- Scientific Name
- Schinus terebinthifolius
- Cashew family (Anacardiaceae)
- Other Names
- Rose pepper, Brazilian pepper