When I think of pepper, my first thought is of ground black pepper found in salt and pepper shakers, but did you know there are dozens of varieties of pepper and pepper-blends to explore? Here's a short list of my favorite types and how to use each one...
Black Peppercorn (Black Pepper)- Black peppercorn is a dried, unripened berry and the most common and versatile. Used in flavoring savory dishes, it has a mild flavor, but is strong enough to add a bit of heat to a dish. One of my favorite fried round steak recipes lists 3 teaspoons of ground black pepper.
Green Peppercorns- Turn up the heat a bit more with green peppercorns. Harvested very early and then brined, or quick-dried, the flavor works great in salsas, cream sauces, and vegetables.
Long Pepper (Piper Longum)- Similar to black peppercorns but with a stronger flavor. Often used in Indian cuisine, and international spice blends.
Pink Peppercorns- These rose-hued berries are unique; they are used in both sweet and savory dishes. Known for their attractive color, they have a sweet and fruity taste. They make a flavorful addition to sauces, meat, and fish dishes; also used in ice cream, and chocolate desserts.
Red Pepper (Cayenne)- This is one of my favorite peppers. Made from a pickled ripe pepper, red pepper is pungent and hot, with a slightly sweet taste. Try red pepper when you want to turn up the heat in mexican dishes, chili, stew, pot roast, jambalaya, and tomato-based sauces.
White Peppercorn- White peppercorns are black peppercorns left to ripen fully. The berry turns white when dried. It is slightly milder than the black variety and is used in light-colored sauces, soups, and marinades. Also good paired with fish and chicken.
Lemon Pepper- A lemony blend of black and white peppercorns, lemon zest, and additional spices. Delicious sprinkled on seafood, steaks, pork, chicken, and salads. Also a pleasing addition to oil and vinegar salad dressing.