White Peppercorns From the Cameroon 60g Jar Steenbergs details and description
Steenbergs Penja Pepper is a white peppercorn comes from Penja in the Cameroon, Africa. 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.
Axel says "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. More mystery and a bit less refined than Indian peppers but full of great joyful heat."
Pepper, Piper nigrum, grows in warm, moist sunny climates, usually within about 15° of the equator. In most countries pepper is grown as a commodity to be sold at a prefixed price per tonne, and is picked as soon as the berries are formed on the vine. When quality brings no extra cash, and margins are preciously slim, farmers can't take any chances - the longer the peppercorns are left on the vine, the greater the risk that they will be eaten by birds, or that the whole crop could be lost in a devastating storm. However, in a few places like India and Sri Lanka, pepper is viewed as more than just a commodity. Here, it is part of the cultural heritage of the people, making growing and harvesting more like craftwork than factory production. Extra time and effort are taken to nurture the plants to produce the bold, rich flavours that have made pepper the king of spices for millennia. White peppercorns start out the same as black pepper, but then are allowed to ripen more fully on the vine until the entire spike has changed to an yellow-red colour, whereupon they are picked. These more mature pepper berries are then packed into sacks and soaked in cool flowing water for one to two weeks to loosen the outer husk (or the "pericarp"). This process is either by soaking in water until the husk loosens (the process of "retting"), or they are held under a constantly flowing stream of artesian spring water, yielding a whiter colour, and an extra clean product. The pericarp is then removed by trampling or rubbing off the outer skin to reveal the creamy coloured or greyish-white core (the process of "decortication"). These white peppercorns are then washed again to ensure that they are fully cleaned then left out to dry in the sun or mechanically dried in kilns. Without the outer shell, white peppercorns have a traditional rich, winey and maybe resinous, with a somewhat hot flavour that is great used in soup, on grilled meat or poultry, in light-coloured dishes. For more details on white peppercorns, try Wikipedia.
White peppercorns are used in fine stocks and for flavouring sauces, especially where you do not want small pieces of black pepper floating in virginal white sauces. So white peppercorns are great in bechamel sauce, creamy soups, quiches and cheese sauces, or you can mix them with black peppercorns for a slightly hotter pepper taste for your peppermill. For further ideas on cooking with white peppercorns, try Allrecipes and the BBC websites.
For more information go to Axel's blog post.
Steenbergs Penja Pepper is a specialist spice that Axel Steenberg has had great fun tracking down and is only sold to our web customers, and is not sold to trade. For other ideas, browse Steenbergs website or call us on 01765 640 088 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.