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Pepper - Greek Herbs and Spices

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Black peppercorns and ground pepper © Jim Stanfield

Black peppercorns and ground pepper

© Jim Stanfield

Greek name and pronunciation:

Piperi, πιπέρι, pronounced pee-PEH-ree

At the market:

Black and white peppercorns and ground pepper are usually readily available at the market. Green peppercorns, packed in brine or freeze-dried, are generally available as well.

Physical characteristics:

Pepper is a vine that produces clusters of berries which look like a foot-long length of knotted rope or a strand of DNA. Black peppercorns are about 1/8th inch diameter, with a shriveled appearance caused by sun drying of the immature berries. White peppercorns are smooth spheres without outer skin. Pickled green peppercorns are smooth-skinned, pale green berries; dried, they're green and shriveled.

Usage:

The important thing about pepper is the grind.
  • If added to food during cooking, use a fine grind.
  • If added to prepared food on the plate, use a coarser grind.
  • In marinades, it's best cracked with a mortar and pestle.
White pepper doesn't show up in mayonnaise and white sauces; green goes exceptionally well with pepper steak; red goes well with wine sauces for meats and with chicken, and black goes with everything.

Substitutes:

coriander seeds

Origin, History, and Mythology:

Pepper is now so commonplace that it is probably taken for granted; however, in ancient times, it was so precious that it was used as money.

America's first millionaire, Elias Haskett Derby, won his fortune in the American pepper trade in the early 1800s.

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