Pepper is the most popular spice in the world and was so prized at one point in history that it was actually used as currency. In fact, European explorers were primarily seeking pepper when they found their way to the new world. Both white and black peppers come from the same plant and both are useful seasonings. In order to use these spices effectively, it is important to know how they differ in terms of appearance and flavor. Let’s breakdown the similarities and differences in another SPICEography Showdown.
What is the key difference between white and black peppercorns?
Both black and white peppercorns are berries from the piper nigrum plant. The difference between the two is a matter of processing.
Black peppercorns are the ones with which most people are familiar and are picked when the berries are close to being ripe. The berries are sun-dried after picking which darkens their outer layer.
With white peppercorns, the outer layer of the berry is removed either before or after it is dried so that only the lighter colored inner seed remains. The outer layer can be removed in a couple of ways. For instance, the berry may be soaked in water and this allows the skins to fall off. Another way of removing the skin involves washing the skin off with a continuous flow of water. The latter method creates a cleaner final product.
Which is spicier, black or white pepper?
When it comes to heat, white pepper wins out as its spiciness is more pronounced when compared to black pepper. However, many food experts believe that the flavor of white pepper is markedly less complex when compared to high-quality black pepper. The outer layer found on black pepper contains compounds that add to the complexity of its flavor. The fact that it has the outer layer gives black pepper a greater range of flavor notes including floral and fruit notes.
Can black pepper be used in place of white pepper and vice versa?
In many dishes, you can use whichever of the two peppers you want or have available. While it is possible to substitute either peppercorn for the other, it is also important to note that white pepper is often used to preserve a uniform appearance in cream sauces and other lighter colored dishes. In such dishes, it may not be possible to use black pepper as a substitute unless you have no problem with seeing black specks.
It is also important to note that because white pepper is spicier than black pepper, it may be necessary to use more black pepper when using it in place of white.
Which is more expensive, black or white pepper?
White pepper is usually more expensive simply because its production process involves more steps.
Do black and white pepper have different shelf lives?
Despite the fact that white pepper is more potent in terms of spiciness, it also goes stale faster than black pepper. Black pepper can hold onto its flavor and scent for a much longer time. Experts suggest purchasing whole white peppercorns in order to ensure that flavor lasts for as long as possible.