For the less fortunate, green peppercorns come in jars or cans, which appear to be grown inside a jungle of cardboard boxes.
In reality fresh green peppercorns grow on vines – a species called piper nigrum which climb ferociously and take over tree trunks, power poles and walls.
Green, white and black peppercorns all come from the same plant.
Fresh green peppercorns are immature unripe fruits. Black peppercorns are green peppercorns, treated and dried.
Red peppercorns are ripe peppercorns, and white peppercorns are mature red ones, dried, husk-removed.
Pink peppercorns are a totally different beast, from a different species.
Strangely enough, Vietnam is the world's largest grower of pepper with over a third of the total global production. And I'm living and working here. You'd imagine that we would be wading knee deep through peppercorns, but in reality they pop up at the supermarkets seasonally, so they're hard to put into as regular menu as a fresh product.
I first used fresh green peppercorns in North Queensland, Australia where they were also grown in a small town called Silkwood just a few kilometeres up Murdering Point Road.
We had a dish with fresh local banana prawns, ginger, green peppercorns and basil cream.
They are also fantastic in Asian salads, stir fries and dressings but green peppercorns have a frighteningly short lifespan.
One day is no problem. Two days and they are getting dodgy, and by day 3, there will definitely be quite a few of those berries and stalks turning black.
Fresh green peppercorns are easily preserved by brining, so why not grab a few kilograms in season and do your own.
At the least they look cool, but you can really cut your costs and make a mark with your own product.
Buy fresh green peppercorns in season, and on the day of their arrival. The peppercorns should be deep, rich green colour with no black or blemishes
The bunches should be tight and shiny.
- Preserving jars
- Steamer basket or big pot OR Dishwasher
- Take the seals off the jars, open the jars and wash.
- Pass through the dishwasher to sanitise,
- STEAM or BOIL the jars for 10-15 minutes and allow to cool.
- DO NOT dry or wipe them with a cloth or anything that could contaminate the sterile jars
600g Fresh green peppercorns
500 Vinegar, white
8g Turmeric root
- You'll need a steel pot or pan for cooking (Not aluminium)
- Whisk together the salt, water, vinegar and add to the pot.
- Add the crushed turmeric root and bring to a simmer.
- Clean the peppercorns by washing in fresh cold water.
- Drain them on clean paper towels and pat dry with more clean paper towels.
- Simmer the peppercorns in the brine/pickle solution for 10-15 minutes very gently.
- You don't want the peppercorns to fall off the branch.
- When cooked, lift into the jars with sterilised tongs, spoon or ladle.
- Cover the peppercorns with the pickling liquid, and fill to 1cm below the top of the jar.
- Close jar tight onto the airtight rubber seal.
- Return to steamer and steam / simmer for 15 minutes more to fully sterilise and preserve the jars.
Voila, sexy seasonal brined fresh green peppercorns, 100% natural and made by you.
Fresh green peppercorns should be available by air freight from your Asian supplier. Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand all have solid pepper production.
Kampot in Cambodia is famous for its pepper and its crabs.
That reminds me to post my Singapore pepper crab recipe from Almaty Kazakhstan. I'm on it now.
Have a great day.