Red Pepper

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Piper nigrum. Painting: Happe, 1788. Courtesy: Steenbergs Ltd, 2016.

Red Peppercorns are, also, from the pepper vine, but are a specialist spice that is difficult to track down. Red peppercorns are the final stage for classic pepper when all the berries have fully matured on the vine and turned a deep red colour. Red peppercorns are completely different from pink pepper, but often confused with these.

Red peppercorns come in brine or are freeze dried. Red peppercorns have a cherry red colour through to a darker blood red. The size of ripe red peppercorns is similar to other classic peppers at 3 - 5mm (½ inch).

Red peppercorns have a wonderful sweet fruity flavour with a mild and well rounded heat. Red peppercorns have a very definite fruity but peppery flavour, without the really strong fiery bite of white pepper or that earthy warmth of black pepper. Delicious crushed as an alternative to black peppercorns in almost anything.

Substitute: if a recipe calls for red peppercorns and you cannot find them, substitute for half the amount of black pepper, but not pink peppercorns.

Further Reading

  • Hemphill, I., Hemphill, K. (2014) The Spice and Herb Bible, Robert Rose. ISBN: 9780778804932.
  • McFadden, C. (2007) Pepper: the spice that changed the world, Absolute Press. ISBN: 9781904573609.
  • Norman, J. (2015) Herbs & Spices: The Cook's Reference, DK Publishing. ISBN: 9781465435989.