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Feb 10, 2006 12:11 PM

where to find fresh peppercorns?

  • j

While at a restaurant in New York recently, I had a dish that used what appeared to be fresh (not dried) red peppercorns. They were small, bright red spheres and had a mild, but peppery fire for the taste. They were a beautiful way of adding a little heat and pepper flavor to a bite without seasoning the whole dish. Anyway, they might not even have been peppercorns but rather some kind of berry.

Does anyone here know what I'm talking about and, if so, where I might be able to find some in SF?


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  1. You might be talking about "bird's eye" or tepin (chilitepin) peppers. They will add more than "a little" heat.


    4 Replies
    1. re: Gary Soup

      Probably not, as there are red and pink peppercorns as he described. Birds eye are a different breed will add a chili pepper taste and much more heat.

      Unfortunately, I don't know where to send him to find the peppercorns.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Perhaps Boulette's Larder?

        1. re: Alison

          Yes, I just called them. It sounds like it could be a hit. I'll have to go by and check to make sure it's what I'm talking about. Thanks for the thoughts!

        2. re: Melanie Wong

          Yeah, these weren't too hot. I'm very sensitive to that capsicum kind of heat and, while these had great pepper flavor, they weren't too hot.

      2. I don't know where to find (and have never heard of) fresh red peppercorns. Dried red peppercorns, however, do not have the shriveled-up look that black ones do. They're bright red and smooth. Is it possible that your red pepcorns were these? Just a thought.

        1 Reply
        1. re: oakjoan

          It is possible that they are dried red peppercorns. You are right, they are bright red and smooth. I've been doing more research since I posted and it's possible that some call them "red pepper berries." They supplied lots of flavor, but very manageable heat--and I'm very sensitive to heat.

        2. z
          Zach Georgopoulos

          I bought a jar of reddish pepercorns that are in some sort of liquid, at the Bargain Bank. They are smooth, and would probably have a "fresh" look to them when plated. Haven't ever opened or used them yet, though. Problem with the BB, is that you never find the same things twice. I'll try to remember to look at the jar when I'm home and post the brand and description.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Zach Georgopoulos

            This is a question about a toxic plant and an edible one.

            Does anyone know the relationship between commercial red peppercorns and the red peppercorns from Schinus molle, the so-called California pepper tree. Schinus molle is a tree from South America, but it is planted widely here in California. When it fruits in the spring and you crush the peppercorns, they smell like red peppercorns. (I admit that I have also tasted them, ALTHOUGH I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS.)

            I read a decade ago that Schinus molle was thought to be toxic.

            1. re: David Sloo

              Schinus molle, California pepper tree (weeping habit, small leaves) pink peppercorns are safe - it is pink peppercorns from Schinus terebinthifolius, Brazilian pepper tree (larger leaves, not pendulous) which can cause toxicity.

              1. re: OCEllen

                Thanks for clearing that up. There's a California pepper tree near the picnic table on my deck and the peppercorns have ended up in food more than once. They do not taste good IMO--but I guess they won't kill anyone.

                1. re: Glencora

                  For some they may be an acquired taste. I love even the smell of them and I'm going to try making some pink peppercorn goats milk ice cream when the weather heats up a bit!

          2. well, why not go to the source? a tree. my childhood next door neighbor in los altos had one. it was huge, and carpeted our shared driveway with crunchy fragrant fresh red peppercorns.

            the trees can get quite large, with a dome shaped canopy and long droopy willowy branches. the green berry clusters hang within reach, and as i said, drop (dryer and redder) by the end of the season.

            no, i won't post the address. but you can ask offline, and i know of a great cork tree too.