Botanical name: Schinus terebinthifolius and Schinus molle
Plant family: Anacardiaceae
Range: North and South America
Parts used: the berries
Pink peppercorn is often called Brazilian or Peruvian Pepper as it comes from a shrub native to those regions of South America. But the berries have many other names: Aroeira, Rose Pepper, Christmasberry, Poivre Rose, Baies Roses, Rosé-Pfeffer, Pepe Rosa, Schino Brasiliano, Pimienta Roja, Pimienta Rosa and Rosépeppar.
The shrub is dioecious, meaning it has both male and female flowers and grows to a height of up to 12 metres. It has small white flowers but it is the small berries which start off green, ripening to red, which are of interest.
They are mainly used as a spice in cooking but technically are not peppercorns. They are named as such because they resemble them both in appearance and taste. But unlike true peppercorns, they have a rather flaky texture which makes them difficult to grind and are better crushed.
As long ago as 600 AD pink peppercorns were used in the flavouring of alcoholic beverages, namely a Peruvian corn-based beer. Skip forward a few centuries and Spanish friars are using the spice to flavour wine.
After a somewhat fashionable phase in the 1980s, when their vibrant colour made them popular in Nouvelle cuisine, they fell out of favour when it was revealed they are a botanical cousin of poison ivy and the cashew nut and potentially could cause allergic reactions. The USA reacted by banning their import in 1982. Too late, it was then growing wild in Florida where today they are considered an invasive species. Eventually, the furore died down and the ban was lifted.
Given that the pink peppercorn can cause allergic reactions in some people, but only if consumed or handled in large quantities, it is no surprise to find they are not particularly used in medicine.
Limonene and alpha and beta phellandrene.
Pink Peppercorn in Gin
Distilled it adds a piquant peppery bite to gin but without the sourness of cubebs. Managing to be both fruity and tart it makes an appearance in a number of gins as a supporting role.
Audemus Spirits appear to be the only distiller audacious enough to produce a gin with pink peppercorn as the key botanical. Their Pink Pepper Gin won double gold in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2017.
Add a few as a garnish to your G&T. They won’t add much flavour, they need heat to release their compounds, but they will look pretty.
Where to buy Pink Pepper Gin:-