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Penzey’s Peppercorns (Black)

Black peppercorns are the most used spice in the Western world. I know it’s popular in the vanillareview.com “test kitchen” — we use several pounds a year! Some vanilla plantations also grow peppercorns: Venui Vanilla (Vanuatu), Silver Cloud Estates (India), and Villa Vanilla/Rainforestspices.com (Costa Rica).

If you’ve never tried a high quality black peppercorn, you’re in for a treat. Good peppercorns vary in intensity and flavor, from fruity to hot and spicy (my favorite). This past winter I visited a Penzey’s Spice store and bought three varieties of black peppercorns from India: Sarawak, Tellicherry, and Special Extra Bold.

Sarawak ($4.45/4 oz)

A less-spicy peppercorn. The flavor of this peppercorn, fresh ground, is like the dusty flavor of store bought ground black pepper — a very strange experience. My least favorite, and the last bag finished.

Tellicherry ($3.85/4 oz)

This is a very nice black peppercorn that’s similar to the bulk Indonesian peppercorns from my local Chinese market. Spicy and bold, but nothing exceptional. …second bag finished.

Special Extra Bold ($4.79/4 oz)

Not only are these peppercorns larger than the others, they pack an amazing punch. A bright pepper flavor is accompanied by a distinctly hot peppery spiciness. Dislodging a chunk from your tooth after dinner is an experience unto itself. The “test kitchen” favorite, and my personal favorite. Two ate a quarter-pound in under two weeks.

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