Pink Pepper: Colorful Spice

Pink pepper come from two trees called the Baies Rose Plant and the Peruvian Pepper tree. These trees grow in South America and are not related to the black pepper from Southeast Asia. The pink peppercorn shrubs were introduced into Florida in the 19th century as decorative plants and have thrived there ever since; so much so that they were later labeled as invasive species and banned.

These plants now grow wild in California and Texas as well. In addition, they have been exported to North Africa and to the Mediterranean region. In Brazil, pink peppercorns were officially deemed a product for trade in 1992. The plants grow wild in Brazil’s coastal regions.

Flavor profile of pink pepper

The fact that pink peppercorns are not true peppercorns is nowhere more apparent than in the flavor. Like black pepper, pink pepper does deliver heat; however, that heat lingers for longer than it does with black peppercorns. In fact, some consider the heat to be closer to that of chili peppers than to the relatively mild warmth of black peppercorns. The other distinctive aspects are the spice’s sweetness and the piney aspects of its flavor, which some describe as being similar to the flavor of juniper berries.

Health benefits of pink pepper

While there is not a lot of data on the full nutritional value of pink pepper, there is a lot showing that they contain a variety of phenolic compounds that can have major health benefits. Analysis of pink peppercorns shows that they contain anthocyanins, bioflavonoids along with gallic acid.

  • Anthocyanins: Anthocyanins are the pigments that provide coloring in red, blue and purple plants. They act as antioxidants and can have other effects, including anti-inflammatory and antiviral benefits.
  • Bioflavonoids: This class of phenolic compounds is found in citrus fruits and in green tea. Like the anthocyanins above, they are effective antioxidants that are useful for protecting the body from damage by free radicals.
  • Gallic acid: You can find gallic acid in a range of other foods, including sumac and watercress. Not only is it a powerful antioxidant, it has antibacterial and antiviral benefits as well.
  • Dietary Fiber: Pink peppercorns are rich in dietary fiber. A 100 g serving can provide 33 g of fiber, which is 3 g more than the daily recommended intake for adults.

Pink peppercorns may be useful for treating or preventing various health conditions including:

  • Respiratory ailments: In Brazil, practitioners of traditional medicine have used the pink peppercorn plant to provide relief from respiratory conditions including bronchitis. The peppercorns themselves are also used for treating bacterial infections and colds.
  • Cancer: There is significant evidence that anthocyanins like those found in pink peppercorns are able to fight various types of cancer including breast, prostate and colon cancer. Studies show that they are able to prevent metastasis in breast cancer and even prevent prostate tumor cells from forming in the first place.
  • Diabetes: There is some evidence that gallic acid can cause pancreatic cells to release insulin.

Common uses of pink pepper

The pink peppercorn spice can be used as a substitute for regular black pepper; it can also be added to black pepper to enhance the look of a dish. Pink peppercorns are used mainly because of their appearance. They stand out in light cream sauces and seafood dishes. They are also popular for use in vinaigrettes and other salad dressings. Craft beer makers use them as a flavoring additive for beer, which is how the Incas used them.