Pink Peppercorns: Pink Peppercorns are not true peppercorns, they are the aromatic berries of two trees, the Brazilian Pepper tree also known as the Baies Rose Plant (Schinus terebinthifolius) and the Peruvian Pepper tree (Schinus molle). The term pink peppercorns can also be used to refer to the ripened, red true peppercorns (Piper nigrum) which are more red or orange in color, but that is based on their color only. The distinction is made because although they are both spicy, colorful, and used as pepper, pink peppercorns are very different. Pink peppercorns have a citrus flavor and are more fragrant. They go well with fruit and in desserts and also can be added to other peppercorns for color as a ground pepper blend. Their heat and fruity aroma make them suitable for a wider variety of dishes.
Similar only in size to common piper nigrum black peppercorns, the pink peppercorn plant is related to cashews, mangos, and poison ivy! Native to South America, they are now grown in many parts of the world. In the US they now grow wild in California, Texas, and Florida. The shrubs grow well in wet environments and in fact the Brazilian pepper tree (Schinus terebinthifolius) has been banned in Florida due to fear that they are becoming invasive and driving out other native plants like mangroves. Pink peppercorns have only become available in the last century, exporting began in the late 1800's or early 1900's. Their popularity spread quickly and they are now a favorite in France and used around the world.
Pink Peppercorns are not solid like black pepper, they are light and fluffy, almost hollow. They may give you trouble alone in a grinder as they are smooth and don't always have enough weight to engage in the mechanism. You might try adjusting the grind to a more coarse setting. Mixed with other peppercorns they do well, and they are easy enough to crush by hand. Pink Peppercorns can also be added whole to a dish, adding a spark of color and heat. You may find pink peppercorns pickled in brine, but they lose much of their characteristic color.
Where to buy: Pink Peppercorns