We did say that pepper is a complex little berry. It owes much of its unique flavours to a chemical called piperine. Break through the husk of a peppercorn, where all the essential oils are found, and at its heart you'll find piperine. This pungent, natural alkaloid is what gives pepper its biting spiciness.
Remove the husk, and you increase the heat because there's more piperine than oil. So as is always the way in chemistry, it's about striking a careful balance. Piperine and the essential oils must complement each other so the pepper doesn't get too sharp, or on the flip side, isn't left lacking in punch. Sound complicated? Leave it to us as your spice scientists.
As for the essential oils, once the hard black husk cracks open, the oils quickly oxidise and lose flavour as they're exposed to the air. That's why grinding your pepper will always release the freshest flavours and aromatics. As a rule of thumb, our premium peppercorns regularly contain 3% more essential oil.
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