All About Green Peppercorns

As Tom Alcott explains in his full briefing on pepper,

 “green pepper is unripe, fresh and not fully developed. We say it’s ‘born to be mild’. Preserving it so it doesn’t go off is tricky. Brine works well but is a bit of a pain at the cooking end of things so dehydrating and freeze-drying is the way to go.”

Because they are milder than black peppercorns you can eat them whole. They have a fresher flavour than black – fresh as in freshly picked herbs or freshly ground pepper.

Three methods of preserving green pepper

1. In brine

However, occasionally the briny taste is exactly what’s required – they go particularly well with gammon in a boozy damson sauce.

guide to green pepper
Some excellent green pepper comes from Madagascar, when it comes in tins like this it’s going to be in brine.

2. Air-drying

These have the same wrinkled outside at a black peppercorn. Most of the green peppercorns coming from India are air-dried.

3. Freeze-drying

This is the most expensive method of preservation. They have a smooth outside and a clean flavour. You can rehydrate both air-dried and freeze-dried green peppercorns by soaking them in water (or dry vermouth, or stock) for half an hour or so, but the freeze-dried corns will respond better. The Peppermongers’ green pepper is freeze-dried. Tom comments, “green is one of my favourites; very subtle – great with terrines, pâté etc (it’s mildness made us think of the slogan ‘born to be mild..’)”

guide to green pepper
Peppermongers dehydrated green pepper comes from India

Selecting green pepper

Because green peppercorns have a long shelf life the key is to choose quality peppercorns which have been processed carefully.

Uses of green pepper

  • The site Epicurious suggests using them with scrambled eggs and in stir fries.
  • They aren’t terribly strong tasting so they go well in more delicately flavoured food such as chicken and fish.
  • They’re good in creamy sauces – try deglazing your steak pan with brandy, cream, tarragon and green pepper.
  • Nigel Slater specifies “a few mildly hot, soft green peppercorns” in his recipe for raclette tart – a wonderful confection of melted cheese, salami, cornichons and crème fraîche.
  • the briny kind go well, as described above, with gammon in a boozy damson sauce.
  • Slater also specifies the briny kind in his recipe for spiced lamb patties – the recipe includes curry power, fennel, yoghurt and mint.

When NOT to use green pepper

As a substitute for capers – they don’t taste anything like them

You might also find these posts interesting:

  • Tom Alcott, founder of Peppermongers, give a full briefing on pepper, here.
  • All about red kampot pepper, here.
  • The low-down on Aleppo pepper, here.
  • What you need to know about salt, here.

Kermit the frog – It’s Not Easy Being Green

Fabulous Astratelli solid gold earrings use a mould made from a peppercorn.
Fabulous Astratelli solid gold earrings use a mould made from a peppercorn.
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