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Peppercorns

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks to some help on the cooking equipment forum I just ordered the Unicorn Magnum peppermill. The question now is where can I get quality peppercorns and what makes a good peppercorn? I know Unicorn offers some but I'm not sure of the quality of what else is available. Can I get a decent peppercorn in my local supermarket?
post #2 of 7

?

Personally I have not ran into bad peppercorns yet. I would guess that peppercorns that look like they have been sitting on the shelf for years are something you would want to avoid, but for the most part the supermarkets around here (if they have peppercorns) usually have good ones.
From my very limited knowledge on the subject I believe the flavor is released when the peppercorn is crushed then fades rapidly after that.
I would not take my word for it I’m sure that there are much more knowledgeable people in here that will give advice. This is just my 1 and a half-cent :)
post #3 of 7
Penzey's and Spices Etc are good internet sources. Tellicherry is generally considered the prime peppercorn, but Malabar is still pretty good.

Phil
post #4 of 7
I agree with both gbhunter and phatch. Which is to say: you can get perfectly usable peppercorns at the supermarket, AND you can get really excellent ones from both those online sources. The only peppercorns I'd advise against are the ones that come from discount gift stores -- you have no idea how old they are and if they are still potent at all.

Whether you want to get supermarket or specialty peppercorns depends on your palate and the tastes of the people you cook for, and whether you want to use the freshly ground pepper in everyday cooking or as a garnish. (Pretty much the same as salt: you might use kosher or table salt for basic cooking, but sea salt as a finishing garnish.) Once you start using the mill, you'll find that the flavor of even supermarket peppercorns, when freshly ground, is vastly superior to preground pepper. So start there, and maybe get small quantities of the "fancier" ones. It's easy enough to empty the mill and put in a different type, so you could try a variety if you want to.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #5 of 7

peppercorns

We use tons of pepper, the best deal is Costco. The peppercorns are just fine. Keep them well and they grind with a nice aroma and flavor. I save the "gourmet" peppercorns, red, green, white, pink (actually a berry) for the table or for special dishes. Green peppercorns in brine and dry are a garnish for steaks if you want to make steak Florintine style.
post #6 of 7
I agree with everyone else. The most important issue in buying peppercorns is high turn over from your source. As mentioned above, age is the primary issue with spices.

Asian groceries are also an excellent source for getting more quantity for your money.
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks all for the advice. I'll start with the supermarket and go from there.
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