What are the differences between varieties of pink peppercorns?
Pink Peppercorns: Unraveling the Distinct Qualities of Madagascar’s Culinary Gem. Recognized for their vibrant pink/red hue, spicy, aniseed, and sweet notes, these exceptional peppercorns beg the question: Is there a difference between those from the pepper trees of Peru and Brazil? Additionally, it’s worth noting that these pink peppercorns from Madagascar are available on madagascar-market.com and through specialized retailers in rare and exotic spices.
What is the origin of pink peppercorns?
Pink peppercorns originate from Central and South America, unlike regular pepper, which comes from Asia. The pink peppercorn is the drupe of a large tree belonging to the Schinus genus and the Anacardiaceae family, which includes pistachio, mango, cashew, and sumac. There are approximately 30 species in the Schinus genus, with the most popular being Schinus terebinthifolius (Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay), Schinus molle (Peru), Schinus polygama (Argentina and Chile), and Schinus lentiscifolius (Southern Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina). While these species have naturalized in various countries, Schinus terebinthifolius and Schinus molle are the species used as a substitute for pepper (Piper nigrum) under the name “pink peppercorn.”
What are the differences between Peruvian and Brazilian pepper trees?
Peruvian and Brazilian pepper trees yield pink peppercorns from the Schinus molle and Schinus terebinthifolius species, respectively. Without delving into botanical details, some criteria differentiate the two species. The Peruvian pepper tree is a tall tree, reaching up to 15 meters, while the Brazilian pepper tree is of medium size, ranging from 5 to 10 meters. Another criterion for differentiation is the leaves. Their leaves are evergreen, but they differ significantly. The molle leaves are longer (10 to 30 cm), composed of 19 to 30 lanceolate, slender, pointed, and peppery-smelling leaflets. The terebinthifolius leaves are smaller and wider (13 to 15 cm), composed of 3 to 15 lanceolate to elliptical leaflets with a scent of turpentine. Note that fruit does not allow for differentiation between the two species; both have fruits that can vary in color and size. Pink peppercorns have a pink or red color and a diameter of 7–8 mm.
What are the uses of pink peppercorns?
The fruits of some Schinus species, particularly terebinthifolius and molle, are edible. They are primarily used as a condiment, serving as an excellent substitute for pepper due to their spicy, aniseed, and slightly sweet taste. Despite being falsely called “pink pepper,” they do not belong to the Piper family but rather the Anacardiaceae family. This flavorful, subtle, and distinctive spice is widely used in luxury gastronomy to replace red pepper. They are perfect for seasoning salads, meats, and desserts with exotic fruits. Chefs often use them in sauces, marinades, and salads for dishes like duck breast, foie gras, fish, seafood, and shellfish. They have become an essential spice for fish, whether served raw in carpaccio or cooked in parchment or terrine. They also work wonders in some sweet preparations, especially fruit-based desserts. Cheese enthusiasts enjoy pairing goat or sheep cheeses with crushed pink peppercorns. For regular use in quick dishes, macerating them in olive oil is sufficient. Apart from culinary use, the drupes, incorrectly called berries, are also utilized in other fields like aromatherapy and perfumery.
Where does pink peppercorn come from?
They are native to Latin America, with Schinus terebinthifolius from Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay, and Schinus molle originating from Peru. The cultivation of pink peppercorns has since spread worldwide to countries like Madagascar, Reunion, Mauritius, Australia, the Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Greece, Haiti, India, New Caledonia, Spain, South Africa, Kenya, Turkey, Uganda, and the United States. Pink peppercorn is an invasive plant, with some fruits coming from maintained plantations and others harvested from wild-growing trees. However, the main global producers of pink peppercorns are Brazil, Peru, New Caledonia, Reunion, and Madagascar. In the 19th century, Reunion was a major producer for the European market.
What is Madagascar’s pink peppercorn?
Madagascar is one of the world’s producers of pink peppercorns. Introduced by Reunionese settlers in the 19th century, Madagascar’s pink peppercorn was initially planted on the western part of the high plateaus near the Sakay River. Farmers in the Bongolava region continued cultivation, turning the area into a significant pink peppercorn production zone in Madagascar due to the plant’s invasive nature. However, the most important production area for pink peppercorns is in the south, in the Anosy region. Other regions also produce Madagascar’s pink peppercorns, including the Antsinanana region (east) and the Antsimo-Antsinanana region (southeast). In Madagascar, pink peppercorns are not as popular as regular pepper among local consumers, leading to the production being primarily for export.
For which markets is Madagascar’s pink peppercorn intended?
Madagascar is a significant spice producer, and pink peppercorns are one of the spices that have built the country’s reputation among spice enthusiasts worldwide. Malagasy cuisine uses few or no pink peppercorns, making this spice part of the cash crop culture primarily aimed at the international market. Madagascar’s pink peppercorns are globally recognized for their quality and are marketed in three different grades: Grade 1, Grade 2, and Grade 3. On the world market, Grade 1 or “Caliber A+” is the premium quality of them, featuring the most beautiful berries. Grade 2 is an intermediate quality where the berries may have some imperfections, but the quality remains high. Grade 3 includes broken and lower-quality berries. Italy, Japan, and France are the most significant importers of Madagascar’s pink peppercorns