Black and white pepper: How different are they?

  • 07 May 2019
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One of the world's most important spice, peppercorns was once used only by the wealthy in the Middle Ages and highly prized in India in ancient days. Even today, it accounts for about one-fifth of the world's spice trade. Although there are a variety of peppercorns, the ones that are instantly recognised would be the black and white peppercorns. Both come from the same plant – piper nigrum. Read on to see how they differ from each other.

1. Processed differently

When the berries are just about to ripe, they will be harvested and sun-dried. It is the drying process that gives the berries its characteristically black hue because the top layer turns dark.

As for the white pepper, that top layer is removed before or after the berries is sun-dried, revealing the inner seed which will remain white.

2. Different degrees of heat

Black pepper has a more rich and bold flavour which would give a dish more heat. The white pepper has a less complex flavour and is more suitably used when only a pinch of it is required.

3. Shelf life

When kept in an air-tight container, whole black pepper can last for a long time, up to a year. The white pepper, on the other hand, is best used fresh. It can go stale rather quickly.

4. Compliments different types of dishes

Black pepper is usually used in dishes that require more heat and is used during the cooking process. White pepper is used sparingly and only once the dish is cooked as it can turn bitter if overheated.

Photo Source: Spice Trekker

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