Young peppercorn grows on a woody stemmed vine that can climb up to 10 meters in the wild. It is a perennial evergreen that produces dark green ovate leaves that are 15 cm long with trailing yellowish-green florets that bloom in the summer. The flowers will eventually ripen into the spherical peppercorn fruits that first appear green and eventually turn red at the time of harvest. Foraged young peppercorns have a more mild spice but offer a complex fresh vegetal flavor with a chewy texture that pops. When foraging, select berries with a slight sheen and tightly clustered together. Fresh green peppercorns are quite perishable and are commonly found preserved in brine or pickled.
Young peppercorns are high in iron, vitamin K, and antioxidants. Piperine is a chemical found in young peppercorns that may have anti-cancer properties. The oil derived from young peppercorns is used to treat rheumatism, chills, flu, colds, poor circulation, exhaustion, and muscular aches.
The bright, piquant flavor of young peppercorn adds a refreshing contrast to rich meats and creamy cheeses. Add the brined young peppercorn into sauces for beef, or use the crushed young peppercorn to encrust soft goat cheese. Young peppercorns are popular in French, Thai, and Western European cuisines. They complement seafood, poultry, grilled meats, pates, butter, cream, white sauce, white wine, mustard, curry and parsley.
In tropical regions, young peppercorns are available year-round. Fresh young peppercorn can be found daily in the wet markets of Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries.