White peppercorns, like black peppercorns are berries from the piper nigrum plant. They are however distinctly different to black peppercorns as a result of being differently processed. For white pepper, fully ripe berries are soaked in water, the outer fruit layer is then removed, and the seeds are then dried. This process removes some of the volatile oil and piperine compounds that gives black pepper its specific heat component, aroma and health properties. The flavor of white pepper is thus less complex, lighter, and more earthy but it still has health benefits including anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and may also improve digestion.
White pepper preserves the uniform appearance in food and is therefore often used in lighter coloured dishes like white sauces, mayonnaise, potato and noodle dishes. It has been used as a common spice for at least 3000 years in European and Asian cuisine featuring in hot and sour soups, marinades, poultry and spicier stir fries. It is often advised to add white pepper after the dish has been cooked, as overheating can release a bitter flavor.
By making your own salt mix (2 cups salt mixed with 2 teaspoons white pepper), and then using this cooking, you can get a ‘full body taste’ and thus cut back on salt.
1.5 kg potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 bay leaves
¼ teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup hot milk
1/4 cup butter, cut into chunks OR 45 ml olive oil
- Place potatoes and bay leaves in a saucepan. Add water to cover. Bring to boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain and return potatoes to saucepan.
- Remove bay leaves. Add salt and white pepper.
- Mash with a potato masher, gradually adding milk and then butter.
- Serve immediately.
Ring the changes:
Use chicken or vegetable stock instead of water to cook the potatoes and/or replacing half the potato with cannellini beans .
Whole peppercorns retain their flavor much longer so best to grind peppercorns just before using. Pepper is also best stored in a tightly sealed container away from light. The peppercorns store longer as ground may lose flavor after about 3 months