Posts Tagged ‘Penja’

Penja White Pepper Is Back

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Steenbergs Penja pepper comes from a family farm in the Penja region of the Cameroon.  Bought in 1970 from a retiring French pineapple farmer, Salamon and then his son René have converted this 70 hectare plantation over the pepper growing during the 1980s when the pineapple market became saturated.  The plantation now only grows black and white pepper.

This Penja white pepper is truly special – clean and light peppery taste, with sharp heat that builds and lingers.  Perfection.

 

 

Pepper Review – Kampot Pepper Notes

Friday, October 29th, 2010
Kampot Peppercorns - White, Black And Red

Kampot Peppercorns - White, Black And Red

I have been spending some time recently reviewing our pepper range at Steenbergs, including going through the recipes for Steenbergs’ pepper-based blends.  The result is a few tweaks in some of the non-core blends and a few new ones to be added over the next few weeks, as well as the addition over the last year of several interesting and different pepper varieties. 

Selim Pepper

Selim Pepper

So at Steenbergs, we now have pepper from Penja in the Cameroon, Tasmanian Mountain pepper, a wild mountain pepper from Madagascar, all of which add subtle twists to the idea of pepper.  To this, I have just added Selim Pepper or Moor Pepper earlier this week.  The Selim Pepper has a really woody texture so you have to grind it down, then its taste is initially a musty resinous taste that has a smoky tea-like flavour; after a few seconds a bitter chemical warmth (not heat) comes through reminiscent of burnt tyres which lingers in the throat.

This week I have also had some samples of some fine pepper from a NGO in the Kampot region of Cambodia.  The black and red pepper were really fruity and had a milder piperine taste than you normally get.  I reckon that they will be worth adding to range when I can get some stock.  Here are my tasting notes:

Black Pepper: 3 – 4mm, deep brown, wrinkled.  Characteristic musty, resinous warming aroma. Taste: mild, fruity but nice, soft warmth building after 20 seconds which is not overpowering but lingers at back of throat.  No sharpness.  Really good.

White Pepper: 2 – 4mm, off white/tan with shape reminiscent of coriander with base to corn and then striations from base to tip.  No smell of sweaty socks, really clean and well made with almost no aroma.  Taste: hard bite, no fruitiness, immediate intense heat with slight mustiness coming through.  Good but too direct and no particular character.

Red pepper: a real red pepper from Piper nigrum; 5mm, faint redness but browning.  Fruity aroma with a little piperine and a hint of chocolate.  Taste: very special → lots of fruit, followed by mild piperine coming through; warming but not intense.  Glorious, perhaps the best I have tasted.

Kampot Black Peppercorns

Kampot Black Peppercorns

Kampot White Peppercorns

Kampot White Peppercorns

Kampot Red Peppercorns

Kampot Red Peppercorns

New Penja Pepper from the Cameroon in Western Africa

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

I’ve got some new peppers and as usual I am bit over-giddy about it.  These ones are classic Piper nigrum – the traditional pepper plant for normal black, white and green pepper.   Usually, we get our black pepper from India and Sri Lanka, but these are from Africa – from the Penja Valley in the Cameroon.  The Cameroon is a former French colony and is squeezed between Nigeria to the North-West, The Central African Republic and Chad to the East and the Congos to the South.   They have a wonderfully colourful football team – the Cameroon Lions – who are my non-England team to follow in the South African World Cup this year (see http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/teams/team=43849/profile.html).

The Penja Valley is a great place for horticulture, a remote valley with only 30,000 people living there.  The terroir is a fertile volcanic soil and the climate is ideal for tropical plants, like pepper vines – loads of humidity and rainfall and masses of hot sun.  It’s a steamy, sweaty place.  Like a niche estate wine, only 18 tonnes are grown on this 100 hectares plantation and no chemicals are used in the growing, processing or post-harvest processes, so while not organic they are free from nasties.

The rich volcanic soil creates flavours and aromas that are soft and refined with a delicate musky, mysterious perfume and lots of hot, African heat that lingers bitingly at the back of the throat. 

We have bought some Penja Green and Penja White this time. 

Penja White And Green Peppercorns

Penja White And Green Peppercorns

The Penja Green is picked while the berries are not yet fully mature and the oxidisation process is stopped by blanching the green berries in boiling hot water.  They are bright lime green in colour with a light, faint peppery aroma and the taste starts with a clean, slightly sweet flavour but this builds up quickly to a bright, bitingly hot and vivacious heat that lingers at the back of the throat and on the tongue. 

The Penja White is matured longer than the black, dried as above, and then the skin is removed in water to reveal the bitingly hot core of the berry, which becomes quite hard and crunchy.  The berries are smaller than the green due to the processing, giving a creamy white ridge shape reminiscent of big coriander seeds.  The aroma is strong, fusty and peppery and the taste is of a truly hot pepper that makes you sweat, quickly getting to an intense, searing white hot heat that lingers around the whole mouth, numbing the tongue.  It’s a really great white pepper and I like it better than many of the Indian ones I have tried, although there is perhaps less depth of character than a classic Wayanad white pepper.

Try Penja green pepper and Penja white pepper for some variety to you cooking – more mystery and a bit less refined than Indian peppers but full of great joyful heat.

Please find below the links to buy these peppers – let us know what you think of the pepper:

https://steenbergs.co.uk/product/1072/green-peppercorns-single-estate-from-cameroon//4

https://steenbergs.co.uk/product/1073/white-peppercorns-single-estate-cameroon-africa//4