- black peppercorns
Peppercorns are the berries of a vine found climbing trees in tropical rainforests. Before the sixteenth century, when chillies were first brought to Europe from America, pepper was the main spice used for adding pungent heat and bite to dishes.
At high temperatures its flavour quickly dissipates, so it is usually added at the end of cooking, or sprinkled over food at the table.
In the kitchen
Black pepper is essential to France's steak au poivre and traditional English sausages. You'll also find it in India's garam masala spice blend and rasam soup.
Don't forget pepper when it comes to desserts either. Easiest is to sprinkle it over fresh strawberries or raspberries. A light black pepper ice cream is lovely served with fruit tarts.