Though it might resemble the black peppercorn in both appearance and flavour, the pink peppercorn is in fact a misnomer. This piquant fruit is unrelated to other varieties of pepper, hailing from the Schinus molle - a distinct evergreen tree native to the Peruvian Andes. Closely associated with the Inca – who used it in ways ranging from the medicinal to the culinary – the pink peppercorn also holds certain spiritual associations, and has long been used throughout Mesoamerican tradition in both cleansing rituals and blessings.
The berries grow in large drupes, where they are picked, dried and subsequently packaged or ground to extract their flavour. Where black pepper is sharp and spicy, pink peppercorns are more complex: fruity and hot, they provide a more rounded spice that has seen them used in the creation of alcoholic beverages, as well as in curries and syrups. Owing to its more subtle fragrance and taste, pink, unlike black pepper, is now also a popular ingredient for ice creams and sweet treats, creating a delicate counter balance to more sugary ingredients. Archaeologists have discovered that fruit from the Schinus molle was potentially used in early forms of chica, and there are reports of the Wari’ tribe native to Brazil also creating their own form of alcoholic drink derived from the plant’s red berries.
Its bright flash of colour has also seen it used in the creation of dyes and is befitting of the fruit’s other medicinal properties too. Pink peppercorn is said to be an effective remedy for toothache and rheumatism, and is also thought to possess antibacterial and antiseptic qualities. Alternative practitioners have long prescribed it as a diuretic and as a remedy for those suffering from depression. Certain strains contain gallic acid, high in antioxidants that are effective in maintaining cell tissue and replenishing the skin’s surface.
What’s more, these small, seemingly fragile fruits pack a powerful, aromatic punch, which, when combined with more mellow rosewater in one of Crabtree & Evelyn’s most popular blends, has the subtle effect of rousing the senses, invigorating the mind and helping you to stay alert.
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