Pass the pepper please!

I know, it seems strange to some that I can actually ramble for an entire posting about pepper, but trust me, I can.  As I’m pondering what to blog about next, and focusing on my favorite herbs and spices, I have come to the conclusion that there are several I should probably own stock in (if that were even possible…I don’t recall PEPP being a choice on the little Dow ticker thingy) and pepper would definitely be one of them. I always remember “peppering” my food heavily, and I still can’t quite fathom my younger sister’s extreme aversion to pepper in food. I can even remember getting my first pepper mill (which is amusing because I really can’t remember getting my first car!)  And, even though they are typically used together, I rarely grab the salt shaker in conjunction with my pepper mill.  Not that I don’t like salt…I will chat about it at another time.  I just use salt in moderation, only as it’s needed in the recipe…but, I love the flavor of pepper in my food!  Like garlic, pepper can be found is several forms in my kitchen…fine and coarse ground black pepper, rainbow peppercorns in my pepper mill for table use, and peppercorns to be very coarsely ground using either my mortar and pestle or an electric spice grinder.

Black pepper is a flowering vine and peppercorns are the tasty fruit of the vine which are dried and used as a spice.  Most people purchase the already finely ground black pepper and use it from a shaker.  After reading this blog, I hope you invest in two things: a pepper mill and what you often see called “rainbow” peppercorns.  There are several types of peppercorns; black pepper, which is the dried, ripe fruit of the pepper vine, green pepper, which are the dried unripe fruit, white pepper, which is the dried seeds, and pink pepper, which is the dried fruit of a different plant.  Each has it’s own distinct essence and freshly ground together,  they are very flavorful and enhance the taste of your food.  As with every spice, being freshly ground provides a more intense flavor.

My motto for pepper is the same as my motto for bacon: everything’s better with pepper! (I’m certain those people closest to me are shocked that it has taken me three blog posts to mention bacon!) And, now that I have mentioned it, I am going to go fix some bacon…and pepper it heavily!