You’ve definitely heard of pepper and you’ve heard a lot of recommendations for freshly ground black pepper, on every cooking show you’ve ever watched. Did anyone explain why fresh pepper is better?
Did anyone talk about the merits of pre-ground pepper? It is on the market for a reason. Today we’re going to look at whether freshly ground black pepper really is better.
Yes, it is! The freshly ground pepper has all of its flavor intact and is a very satisfactory crunch, as it’s much spicier than the pre-ground pepper. Pre-ground pepper comes very finely milled, so it’s easier to use.
But, fresh black pepper has more in it’s taste. It’s definitely much stronger tasting with more pungency, fruity notes, and a slightly musky smell.
The problem with pre-ground pepper is that it can evaporate very, very quickly. Pepper contains piperine, a compound that gives it its signature heat and flavor. This piperine is great, but it doesn’t last long if the peppercorn is cracked.
The only good pre-ground pepper is the fresh one immediately after being packed. Spice packets are often lacking, and the kind that are re-sealable are a bit of a joke. It’s better than the plain paper ones, but still.
Let’s take a look at some of the pepper shakers in the restaurant. They’re not mills, they’re shakers. This means the ground pepper just sits there all day long, and it gets rid of its goodness through those tiny holes at the top. You’re only putting gray dust on your food by the end of the week.
Pepper can last for a long time if it’s whole, dried, and well packed. It can go up to 3 years if it’s kept in a container that doesn’t have any extra heat or humidity. Three years is a long time.
You have a week, tops, after you crack it. It depends on how you’re storing the ground pepper. The more the surface area is exposed to oxidation, when the grind is finer.
We have a very earnest recommendation to invest in a pepper mill. It is possible to use all spices, not just pepper. They’re around $8, which is the kind with the peppercorns already inside. A bottle of peppercorns can last you half a year, depending on how you use it.
If you are thinking of trying fresh pepper, what should you do before you buy a spice mill? Take a look at the ideas and be sure to find something that suits you.
We’re sure a pepper mill will be on your shopping list after you try fresh pepper and see the dramatic difference in taste.
If you have a mortar and pestle at home, you can try it. The goal is to break the peppercorn open and reduce it to a small size, no matter what kind of appliance it is.
The smell will be divine, and you can control the size and consistency of the pepper with a mortar and pestle.
If you’re fresh out of mortars and can’t find a pestle, that’s okay. A basic approach is what we recommend. A metal spoon has a really tough, sturdy handle. We don’t need the one that can bend quickly anymore, we’re relying on it being sturdy.
Place the paper towel over a hard surface with just one square. You should add as many as you need, but be aware that this works best with less corn. Put the back of the spoon on the pepper and press hard. The goal is to break them.
They will roll around a bit, so it’s best to use a paper towel to keep them in place. Once you can break a few, they will stop the others and you will eventually be able to crack all of them.
If you can’t keep them all in one place, you should just put the paper over the peppercorns and crack them through the towel first.
You will not get a fine size with this method, but it will definitely show the amazing smell and flavor.
If you want even more control, you can get a small bag or rolling pin. The bag must be thicker than ziploc or any other plastic so it won’t rip open from being hit or the peppercorns’ edges.
The peppers should break open easily if you roll the pin or bottle over them. The method gives more control over the grind size.
Pepper goes with many spices, but there are some combinations that go with it very well. Pepper with fresh mint leaves goes very well. It’s not the flavor of menthol that helps, as it’s fairly light in fresh peppermint. It is the fresh green herb taste that pairs well with pepper. The same can be done to fresh basil.
It is nice to have pepper and lemon, even if it is just lemon juice and zest. In terms of heat and flavor, lemon juice has the acid in it that brings out piperine.
Make sure you only add a small amount of pepper with fall spices. You don’t want to add more than a small kick with pepper, cinnamon and ginger are spicy in their own way.
It works well with chocolate for some people. If you’re feeling experimental, you can sneak in a small amount of pepper in some brownies.
It’s pretty much all about black pepper. Maybe you’ll give fresh pepper a try, you know why it’s superior to pre-ground. Do give it a try, whether you get yourself a pepper mill or crack a few peppercorns at home. You won’t be disappointed, that’s for sure.