Green peppercorns grow on a woody stemmed vine that can climb up to 10 meters in the wild. It is a perennial evergreen that produces dark green ovate leaves 15 cm long with trailing yellowish-green florets that bloom in the summer. The flowers will eventually ripen into the spherical peppercorn fruits that first appear green and eventually turn red at the time of harvest. Foraged Green peppercorns have a more mild spice but offer a complex fresh vegetal flavor with a chewy texture that pops. When foraging, select berries with a slight sheen and tightly clustered together. Fresh Green peppercorns are quite perishable and commonly found preserved in brine or pickled.
In tropical regions Green peppercorns are available year-round. Fresh Green peppercorns can be found daily in the wet markets of Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries.
Peppercorns, whether black, white or green, all come from the same flowering vine botanically known as Piper nigrum. Green peppercorns are the fresh fruit that will later go through a drying process to yield the more common black peppercorns. White peppercorns are the inner seed of the black peppercorns with the outer skin removed. The term “pink peppercorn” is a misnomer as it is not actually a peppercorn but the ripe berry from the ornamental Brazilian pepper tree. It is often used as a peppercorn in culinary applications due to its similar appearance and mildly spiced flavor. Green peppercorns may be used fresh, brined, pickled or freeze-dried.
Green peppercorns are high in iron, vitamin K, and antioxidants. Piperine is a chemical found in Green peppercorns that may have anti-cancer properties. The oil derived from Green peppercorns is used to treat rheumatism, chills, flu, colds, poor circulation, exhaustion and muscular aches.
The bright piquant flavor of Green peppercorns adds a refreshing contrast to rich meats and creamy cheeses. Add the brined Green peppercorns into sauces for beef or use the crushed Green peppercorns to encrust soft goat cheese. Green peppercorns are popular in French, Thai, and Western European cuisines. They complement seafood, poultry, grilled meats, pates, butter, cream, white sauce, white wine, mustard, curry and parsley.