Black, white, and green peppercorns are all composed of the fruit of the Piper nigrum plant, differing only by their methods of preparation. In their natural state, peppercorns hang off the plant in drupes, beginning green and eventually ripening to red. The unripe green peppercorns are picked and freeze dried to preserve the color and flavor to make green peppercorns. Black peppercorns are also made from the unripe fruit, but instead of being frozen, they are dried, attaining the black color and characteristic piquant flavor. To make white peppercorns, the fruit is allowed to ripen on the vine, where it is picked and then treated in water to begin the retting process. During this period, the red flesh deteriorates and pulls off of the peppercorn, revealing the white center. These centers are then dried in order to complete the process of creating white peppercorns. Pink peppercorns are unrelated to the Piper nigrum plant, and are the fruit of the Brazilian Schinus terebinthifolius. The fruits are sweeter than those of other peppercorns but are similarly piquant with a flavor that is lighter and somewhat fruitier.
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***For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.