The King Kongs of peppercorns, their super size and big flavor make for amazing, aromatic, pungent presence in your cooking. This should be your day-to-day, go-to black pepper!
There are a number of black pepper varieties out there. The most common is Malabar, but Tellicherry black peppercorns are hitting the American mainstream. Is there a difference in peppers? You betcha! Which is why the pinnacle of peppercorns, Tellicherry Special Extra Bold, should be your go-to pepper in the kitchen!
An Indian peppercorn, there is a lot of misinformation about these peppers. All peppercorns are of the Piper nigrum family, the fruit of a flowering vine dried to enhance the chemical piperine, not to be confused with the capsaicin characteristic of chili peppers.
In India, they’re the largest “grade” that come out of the sorters. Think of them like eggs: Grade AA, Grade A, etc. These? They’re “AAAAAA.” They’re left to ripen longer, which makes them bigger and richer than Malabars, are a grade down from Tellicherry, and two grades down from the Special Extra Bolds.
When the peppercorns grow larger, they will lose a bit of their heat, but, the trade-off is bigger aroma! Peppercorns’ heat are really the secondary experience. Their aroma, how they impact your nose, is what distinguishes them. Most Malabar is big on flavor, but very “eh” for aroma. They have some of the same characteristics as the white peppercorn, with far more robust flavor.
Spicy “extra bold” are the peppercorns allowed to grow and ripen longer, so they are the King Kongs of aroma. My go-to for spices, SpiceJungle, gets the best of the best, the Special Extra Bold!
The only differentiations in peppers’ flavor can come from where they’re grown and harvested. Pepper comes from a variety of tropical regions these days, much of it in the American market from Vietnam. The Indian peppercorns tend to be my favorite. The Vietnamese do killer cinnamon, but their pepper crops seem to intake a lot of less-ripe berries that produce a little pinch of pungence, but not much aroma. You won’t always know origin, but if it says Product of India, it’s probably the right way to go!
Black pepper is used as a spice in nearly all the world’s cuisines as a pungent, spicy, heating agent for food due to the presence of piperine. Teasings of citrus and wood also add to black pepper’s allure. Tellicherry Special Extra Bold peppercorns are the big flavor with a little more of that penetrating, fruity, aromatic wonder!
During the Age of Discovery, black pepper and the profit of the spice trade was one of the reasons Portugal, Spain, France, and other European nations sailed the world and expanded the map; to find new sources of spice.