Category Archives: black peppercorns

Spotlight on Spice : Black Pepper

I use Black Pepper a lot in my cooking, it isn’t merely something that adds flavour but also has numerous health benefits.  Black Pepper is used for its aroma, nutritional and medicinal benefits making it surprisingly nutrient rich.

black peppercorns

Black Pepper – Piper nigrum – is from a perennial flowering vine from the Piperaceae family.  Black peppercorns are made by picking the pepper berries when they are half ripe and just about to turn red. They are left to dry which causes them to shrivel and become dark in colour (there are other peppercorn colours but these are from the same plant, either picked earlier or processed).

Health Benefits

Black Peppercorns are a good source of potassium, zinc, manganese, iron, calcium and magnesium.   They are also an excellent source of many of the B-complex vitamins such as B1, B2, B3 and B6.

Peppercorns are a good source of vitamin A, C, E and K and are also rich in flavonoid polyphenolic anti-oxidants which help the body to remove harmful free radicals.

Black Pepper is a great digestive, the piperine content stimulates the taste buds to signal the stomach to produce more hydrochloric acid. This acid is essential to digest proteins and other foods in the stomach, 

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Want to know more, see Natural News for a more detailed read.  Also do check out Peppermongers for more unusual peppers and some interesting recipes plus Mr ND’s fabulous Tuna Steak au Poivre.

 

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Flavour Packed Vegetable Stock

I’ve been making my own vegetable stock forever especially in the colder months and this year being colder for longer I’ve made a small batch this weekend. It’s so simple to do and it’s a great way to use up excess vegetables.  Carrots, celery and onion make up the base of my stock and from there I add different vegetables depending on what’s usually in the fridge, parsnips, leeks and sometimes cabbage, swede and mushrooms have made their way into the pot.

I use parsley, bay and black peppercorns but also have used thyme, garlic and other herbs, there really is no set menu for making your own recipe vegetable stock.  The stock I’m making here is perfect for tiny tastebuds too, mine doesn’t like garlic very much yet so will leave it out of this batch.

Today’s pot of goodness includes:

2 organic carrots, chopped – I don’t peel, just give a good scrub
2 celery sticks, chopped
1 medium onion, cut into quarters
1 parsnip, peel and cut lengthways
1 small swede, chopped
1 leek including the green part, trim the end off and cut lengthways
3 cabbage leaves, the very outer greener ones
small handful of parsley including stalks
a few black peppercorns
1 bay leaf

Put all the vegetables into a pan, I’m using my trusty old (and it is very old but still so good) Le Creuset pan and add 2 litres of water.   Depending on the size of your pan you can add more or less water, more will, of course, produce a more lighter flavoured stock and with less the stock will have a more concentrated infusion.  2 litres fills my pot nicely and produces a delicious, well-flavoured stock.


Simmer for 1-2 hours, I know this seems a bit vague but an hour is fine but if I have the time I do like to give it a bit more simmering time.  Stir occasionally to further blend the flavours.

For extra depth of flavour you can also fry the vegetables gently first in a little oil before adding the water.  For soups though I prefer a simple, fresh and light stock.

Take off the heat and strain through a sieve and leave to cool.  The stock liquid can now be used as the base for soups or to make rissoto, quinoa, etc. 

Once cooled the stock can be frozen, mine is used up pretty quickly as I make a lot of soups which are fabulous for the 5:2 diet which I am still doing every week, it has become a habit now, part of my week and having low-calorie, highly nutritious soups to keep my appetite satiated has been amazingly helpful. 

The cooked vegetables can also be blended down and included in many recipes.  The vegetables will still contain plenty of fibre and a huge shame to waste.  I use them in soups for the tiddler, blended down or added to casseroles.  We also make veggie burgers, mixing the mashed vegetables with breadcrumbs and egg, seasonings and sometimes cheese.  So many uses for extra veg!

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