Once ground or crushed, peppercorns release the volatile oils which produce the distinctive flavour and aroma. When exposed to the atmosphere these oils quickly oxidise and lose their potency. Whole peppercorns are therefore a must if you want your cooking to have bright zesty flavours. You have only to smell the heady aroma of freshly ground pepper to appreciate the difference in the grey dust that passes for ready-ground pepper.
Equally important are tools for grinding, crushing and cracking. They enable you to process your peppercorns and other spices at exactly the right moment for maximum flavour and minimum deterioration. A couple of peppermills are essential – one for black, one for white – as are mortar and pestle. For grinding large amounts of pepper it’s worth investing in an electric coffee grinder and keep it especially for the purpose.
© 2008 Christine McFadden. All rights reserved.