Green peppercorns are the unripe, soft fruits of the pepper plant, piper nigrum. As the species name implies, this is the plant that gives black peppercorns–which are the same as green, but ripened and dried. Green peppercorns are not as pungent as black peppercorns, but they do have that famous flavor. They’re especially good in making sauces. The green peppercorns you need for that purpose, however, are the undried kind, sold marinated in brine. For some reason, these have become hard to find. (The reason may be that many grocers, not understanding what they are, put marinated green peppercorns on the same shelf with capers, which are about the same size and color but radically different in every other way.)
One of our readers, Victoria Olson, sent me this recipe for turning the very common dried green peppercorns into the soft, sauceworthy kind. It doesn’t come out exactly the same as the never-dried kind, but close enough.
Victoria says that the excess vinegar brine can be used as a condiment.
- 4 oz. dried green peppercorns
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 2 tsp. pickling salt or kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. white sugar
- In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan with a well-fitting lid, combine all the ingredients. Over low heat, bring to the lightest of boils, then lower to the lowest heat setting. Cook for about an hour with the lid in place. Be careful not to breathe the vapors, which are irritating.
- After an hour of cooking, remove the pan from the heat and let the contents steep, covered, for another hour.
- Pour the entire contents into a 12-ounce, processed canning jar. The peppercorns can be used immediately, or stored in the refrigerator.
Makes about five teblespoons
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