This week I'll be looking at an Australian plant, Tasmannia lanceolata otherwise known as Tasmanian Mountain Pepper Berry.
While not a member of the pepper family, it does contain a compound called Polygodial which gives it the pungent heat that you tend to associate with pepper. They also contain enzymes that react with the saliva in your mouth to heighten and lengthen their peppery characteristics.
In the photo above you can see both items that can be harvested from the tree - the pepper leaves and the pepper berries.
The leaves do look a lot like small bay leaves and can be used in a similar manner to flavour a stew or casserole or other slow braised items but you must use only a little as the flavour is quite strong.
Air-dried pepper berries are extremely potent and the general rule is to use a tenth of the amount - the ones above are freeze dried pepper berries and they tend to be milder, a recommendation would be to use half the specified amount when replacing regular peppercorns.
The leaves and pepper berries aren't commonly found but what we do see more easily available are the ground versions of both
Next to the leaf is ground pepper leaf - it has an attractive olive colour and is used as you would regular pepper but once again, use only half the amount.
Next to the pepper berrries is the russet coloured ground pepper berry - it has an element of moistness to it, so you will find that it tends to stick together in small but easily breakable clumps. As with the whole pepper berries, caution is recommended when using it.