Sunday, January 06, 2008

Pepper Berry

Weekend Herb Blogging resumes after a short break over Christmas and Kalyn is back hosting to kick off the new year.

This week I'll be looking at an Australian plant, Tasmannia lanceolata otherwise known as Tasmanian Mountain Pepper Berry.

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

tasmanian mountain pepper

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.

12 comments:

  1. Wow, very interesting, and an ingredients that's completely new to me. What a beautiful color with the ground berries too!

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  2. Hi Haalo,
    This is so interesting. I'll have to try some when I get back to Sydney. Thanks for the suggestions about quantity, I would have just used it like regular pepper.

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  3. Thanks for this informative post, Haalo! Have you tried Monsieur Truffe's Mountain Pepper Berry chocolate truffles? They are incredible...

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  4. Truffe's Moutain Peper berry truffles are indeed incredible..there again so are most of his truffles...

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  5. Interesting stuff....and good looking photos. Just curious, flavor-wise, would you use this in place of "normal" pepper or does it have a pretty different flavor?

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  6. Thanks for the unique herb, Haalo. This is new to me, and I'm quite excited about it!

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  7. Thanks Kalyn - the ground berries are particularly attractive.

    Thanks Nora - the potency is also affected by the age of the spice.

    Thanks Cindy - can't say I've had any of his truffles but I really should change that

    Hi Ed - I tend to buy the raw ingredients there rather than the truffles but it sounds like I'm missing out

    Thanks Mike - they are related in that they bring an element of heat to a dish. The berry and the leaf do have different notes, the berries have an initial touch of sweetness and a lot of heat whereas the leaf has a bit of a forest taste to it as well as that peppery heat.

    Thanks Susan - I hope you get to try some out!

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  8. just got back from a trip to melbourne one hour ago. visited prahran markets and the essential ingredient where i picked up - guess, guess - pepperberries!!!

    tried to eat at fenix after your last recommendation but they were closed for their summer break. ate at pearl and the press club instead. yum!!!

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  9. That's excellent Anna - look forward to reading about your adventures with pepperberries. You picked two great spots, Pearl and the Press Club are just fabulous.

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  10. Hi Haalo that's such a gret picture of the pepper berries, and it seems to just be part of the background. Do you have a white board that you used to photograph these on or do you you photoshop/something else to manipulate the background after you've taken them?

    thanks,
    Deb

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  11. Thanks Deb - the spices were placed on a glossy white plate and then it's a matter of positioning to get the look you want - how the light falls upon the plate will be the key on how the photo will look. My light source is just the sunlight coming in through the windows, so I just follow it around to get the look I want. It would be much easier with a studio light setup.

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  12. Tasmania pepperberry cheese, very good.
    Tasmania pepperberry Ice Cream, surprisingly very good.

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