Janet's Notebook
A Variety of Peppercorns Can Spice Up Your Kitchen

The Many Faces of Pepper

I recently had a good friend ask me about the difference between cooking with black and white pepper. After thinking for a minute, I realized the only thing I could tell him for certain was that I'd always used white pepper in light-colored dishes (like mashed potatoes and cream soups) and black pepper for meats and other darker recipes. This weak explanation got me wondering... so I set about doing a little research!

What I found is quite interesting: It turns out that black peppercorns are the entire pepper berry that has been picked before it's ripened. White peppercorns, on the other hand, are allowed to ripen on the plant and are then stripped of their outer skin once they're picked! I found this fascinating, and let me tell you, I haven't looked at my little pepper mill the same way since!

The more I've asked people about it, the more debate seems to arise about which type of pepper - black or white - has the spicier flavor. I certainly would have thought it was good old-fashioned black pepper, but some of those I talked to felt the opposite way.

What has your experience been? Is it more about the color or have you noticed a big difference in flavor? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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Juanita Hutchinson - Jan 24, 2010
I have used all colors of peppercorns and they all seem to have a little different flavor. I believe that the white pepper is a little warmer than the black, but that depends on if it is already ground or not. Ground white pepper seems to me to be warmer.
gloria buck - Jan 23, 2010
I never use anything but fresh cracked pepper. That is the real trick.
Mary Jane Weeks - Jan 22, 2010
I have been told that the tast is the same you use the white pepper when you are coking something light in color and the peppper won't been seen
destrie shultz - Jan 20, 2010
I think that polly is on to something. The multi color pepper corns seem to add a wider range of flavor to my cooking. Besides most people are not as familiar with the multi colored corns and find them unique.
Shiela Baudendistel - Jan 20, 2010
Personally...I enjoy the black pepper. I think it has a better taste. White pepper always smells and tastes like.....cow barn? That's all I can think about when I use it..it tastes like a cow barn smells...sorry I happen to like the smell of a barn..just don't want it on my taters lol.
Polly Anna - Jan 20, 2010
I've enjoyed the many different types of pepper offered by my local spice store(The Spice House in Milwaukee). My favorite is a multi color blend of black, white, green and pink peppercorns. This blend adds great color and depth of flavor to any dish, whether used whole or ground fresh.

Or maybe I just cannot make up my mind about which color is best :-)