Kitchen tip: Peppercorns 101


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Posted Online: March 19, 2013, 9:38 am
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Sure, it's a common table spice now, but did you know pepper was once extremely expensive? It was of the most valued items during the time of the spice trade.

Peppercorns come in a variety of colors, and each spices and flavors food in its own way:

Black peppercorns (Piper nigrum) are the most common type of peppercorn. The spice actually is a dried berry. The berries are picked when they are just turning red but still underripe, then dried until the skin shrivels and darkens.

White peppercorns come from the same species, P. nigrum, but the berry is ripened and the skin removed before drying. It often is used in place of black pepper in light-colored foods and sauces so it won't be visually noticed but still can lend some pungency.

Green peppercorns also come from the same soft, underripe P. nigrum. They are preserved through artificial drying or in water, vinegar or brine. Green peppercorns tend to lend a fresh, green flavor as well as some pungency. If the peppercorns are preserved just as they begin to turn red, they may be called "red pepper," though these are not the same as pink peppercorns.

Pink (or red) peppercorns actually are fruits from a different tree (Schinus terebinthifolius). Generally sweeter and more aromatic than p. nigrum, the peppercorns are often used as a decoration or garnish on a plated dish.

Peppercorns can be found whole, cracked, ground and powdered. For the freshest and most intense flavor, buy peppercorns whole and grind right before using.

















 



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  Today is Friday, Aug. 22, the 234th day of 2014. There are 131 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: The ferry boat, Rock Island, having been put in good order at the boat yard is now making her regular trips, much to the gratification of those who have to cross the river.
1889 -- 125 years ago: W.J. Gamble, for many years superintendent of the Moline & Rock Island railway, leased the Fourth Avenue Hotel and renovated and refurnished it throughout.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Pending the building of new public schools or additions to the present ones to provide adequate room for all the children, the board of education decided that pupils younger than 6 years old would not be accepted in Rock Island schools.
1939 -- 75 years ago: The fifth annual New Windsor Fair and Horse show, which has been delayed for two days because of unfavorable weather, got off to a new start last night. The parade was held this morning.
1964 -- 50 years ago: The Rock Island County Fair and Rodeo will celebrate its silver anniversary this year. The fair opens Tuesday and will run through Saturday and offers entertainment and activity for young and old.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Earl Hanson School, Rock Island, joins the Program to Assist Latch Key Student, which aids working parents. PALS is a before and after school program for grades 1-6 in certain Rock Island public and private schools.




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