Green peppercorns are the same fruit as black peppercorns, both are from the Piper nigrum plant. The difference is that green peppercorns are harvested at a different stage of ripeness. Instead of being dried in the sun like black peppercorns, they are dehydrated quickly to preserve their color. Because they are the same as black peppercorns, much of their history remains the same.
The peppercorn originated in Kerala, an Indian state and is known as the king of spices and was once valuable enough to be used as currency. It is arguably the most commonly used spice in the world after salt.
Pepper is documented in texts from ancient Greece and Rome, which means that the trade between India and the western world is truly an ancient one. The early pepper trade from 1,000 BCE saw traders from Arabia controlling the spice trade to preserve a monopoly. Those routes continued to be controlled by Arab traders well into Medieval times. The Venetians held a monopoly on shipping lines in the Mediterranean and could set their own prices. At this point in history, pepper was held in particularly high regard and was costly to ship, which made it a luxury item in Europe.
In part, it was the exorbitant cost of this spice that gave rise to explorers like Christopher Columbus and Sir Francis Drake.
Today, Most of the world’s pepper is still produced in India, with Indonesia following in second place.
Green peppercorns flavor profile
The flavor of green peppercorns is milder than that of black peppercorns, which are noticeably hotter. This makes them great for avoiding the heat of black pepper, while still getting the flavor. The green peppercorns’ flavor is also more complex than those of black or white peppercorns, with fruity notes that are not present in either of the other forms.
Health benefits of green peppercorns
Green peppercorns are similar to black peppercorns in that they too provide a variety of health benefits. The health benefits of green peppercorns come from the fact that they contain:
- Piperine: One of the main components in black peppercorns, piperine is also found in green peppercorns. It is an alkaloid that is believed to have a range of health benefits.
- Vitamins: Green peppercorns can provide significant amounts of vitamins C and K.
- Minerals: Like black peppercorns, green peppercorns are decent sources of both iron and calcium.
- Antioxidants:Green peppercorns contain antioxidants that can help to prevent serious diseases by deactivating free radicals.
Including green peppercorns in your diet may be beneficial for preventing or treating health conditions like:
- Intestinal ailments: Green peppercorns can reduce gas by stimulating the production of hydrochloric acid, which improves the digestion of food. It also has antimicrobial properties, which means that it may be able to reduce the risk of food poisoning by eliminating the bacteria responsible for foodborne illnesses.
- Cancer: There is some evidence that green peppercorns can inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells.
Common uses of green peppercorns
Green peppercorns are a common ingredient in French dishes and show up in classic French recipes like steak au poivre. They work well in creamy sauces. In addition to their use in French cooking, they show up a lot in Thai recipes. They are not as well known on the American culinary scene, but have begun to draw interest from chefs and foodies recently.