Tasmanian pepper – Experience the difference!
Tasmanian pepperberry (Tasmannia lanceolata), also known as Tasmanian pepper, bush pepper, mountain pepper or native pepperberry, is a rare spice native to the wilderness of Tasmania.
Despite looking exactly like a superb alternative to regular black pepper – it is perfect for seasoning your meals when you want something a little bit different.
We hand-forage native Tasmanian pepperberry from carefully selected and managed locations in the Tasmanian wilderness, to bring you the most incredible pepper you will ever experience! The taste of the Tasmanian wilderness.
A sensory journey through the Tasmanian bush
Despite Tasmanian pepper (Tasmannia lanceolata) looking similar to regular black pepper (Piper nigrum), which originates in Southern India, they are completely different plants with different flavours and aromas.
Tasmanian pepper has far more interesting, complex layers to it. The aptly named pepperberry possess fruity & spicy qualities most commonly described as a cross between a plum, ginger and Sichuan pepper and has an amazing fragrant aroma with notes of pepper, woody lantana, cinnamon, floral, citrus and sweet menthol.
Taking us on a sensory journey through the Tasmanian bush, it starts off with a fresh, slight fruity, menthol note. Like a eucalyptus forest after the rains.
Then appears the layer of warm spiciness; ginger, cinnamon and the bitterness of plum skin.
Whilst savouring these interesting combination of flavours for 5 seconds your mouth starts to tingle and you get a playful Sichuan pepper style numbing heat.
This slowly builds and spreads with a bush fire intensity!
Be careful with delayed heat! It can be deceiving when adding pepper to your meal!
How do I use pepperberry?
Probably the best and easiest way to use Tasmanian pepperberry is as an alternative to regular black pepper.
Simple! Freshly cracked directly onto the plate is the best way to enjoy the full pepperberry flavour and aromatics.
When cooking with pepperberry you can add early or late in the cooking process. Late addition preserves the full pepperberry experience. The advantage of adding early is that the spicy bite is very much reduced with time and heat, which brings focus to the fruity character. Using pepperberry in this way will produce a very rich and dark red sauce.
Remember – add lots early OR sparingly late.
Pepperberry is so versatile and is well suited to sweet dishes as well as savoury. Hence why it is a key ingredient in all our sweet preserves!
Try it cracked onto icecream or a sorbet.
Final fun tip, pepperberry bleeds a rich purple colour onto your food. However, if you add lemon juice it will turn a vibrant bright red!
Try it out! If you are really shooting for colour remember that freeze dried berries are somewhat more vibrant than air dried berries.
How do I grind pepperberry?
It can either be ground in a mortar and pestle or put into a regular pepper grinder – on its own or in combination with black pepper. I sometimes hear people say that pepperberry doesn’t grind well in a pepper grinder. Not true! It does grind well provided that it is dry enough. Often in humid kitchens pepperberry re-hydrates somewhat and then becomes difficult to grind. The only solution then is to re-dry the berries – try drying them in the oven on the lowest heat with the fan on. Another trick is to only use small berries in your grinder. For this purpose we grade our berries that are intended for grinder use.
Air Dried vs Freeze Dried Pepperberry
It all depends on how you intend to use it!
Freeze dried pepperberry looks exactly like the fresh berry. It has a delicate crispy texture that can quickly get crushed to a vibrant purple powder, which is very attractive when sprinkled decoratively over food.
It has a notable sweet fruity flavour at first, followed by its characteristic heat.
Because freeze dried pepper is a bit more expensive it is best used as a garnish in a meal, dessert or in a cocktail.
Air dried pepperberry looks exactly like traditional peppercorns but packs much more of a punch! Although it lacks the soft fruitiness of freeze dried pepperberry it makes up for it in spicy potency! If you intend to use pepperberry in a grinder then you need air dried berries.
Pepperberry leaf and berries contain more anti-oxidants than blueberries!
It also contains natural anti-inflammatories and the hot tasting compounds called polygodials. These have been shown to have a wide range of biological activities – more research is required to substantiate health benefits. For nutritional information and background industry facts check out the RIRDC fact sheet.
Pepperberry is recognised in indigenous culture for flavouring, preservation, and in traditional medicine due to its antibacterial properties. Early European settlers used it in flavouring and identified it as having commercial importance in 1804. At some stage the plant was imported to Cornwall in the UK and grown to produce “Cornish pepper”! However it was not until the 1990’s that significant efforts were made to develop an industry. Now orchards are beginning to appear around Tasmania as the industry transitions from wild harvest to orchard based production.
* Source: Brand Miller, J., James, K.W. and Maggiore, P. (1993) Tables of Composition of Australian Aboriginal Foods. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press. Konczak, I., Zabaras, D., Dunstan, M., Aguas, P., Roulfe, R., Pavan, A., (2009) Health Benefits of Australian Native Foods, RIRDC Pub. No. 09/133.
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