Pepper, found in grinders and pantries everywhere, is the world’s most popular spice. Technically a stone fruit, peppercorns come from a flowering vine, piper nigrum, that originated on the west coast of India. They come black (cooked and dried unripe fruit), green (dried unripe fruit) or white (fermented and dried ripe fruit). A compound called piperine is responsible for pepper’s characteristic spiciness.
Mountain pepper or Tasmanian pepperberry (tasmannia lanceolata) is a shrub native to south-east Australia, long used by Tasmanian Aboriginals as food and medicine. The tiny black berries are about the same size as peppercorns and possess their own distinct brand of mild spiciness, one that lingers for several minutes more than regular pepper’s, due to a chemical called polygodial.
You can buy dried pepperberry online and use in the kitchen like regular pepper; taste it in Diemen’s hot sauce; or in a gin from one of many Tasmanian distilleries, including Lark, Southern Wild and Callington Mill.
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