February 8, 2009

Green Peppercorn Pickled in Brine

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,

A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked;

If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,

Where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

How well can you twist your tongue around this rhyme?
Many of us would have memories of trying to accomplish this tongue twister in our schooldays. I know I did, and was successful with a few but never this particular one! I just remembered this Mother Goose rhyme as I was trying to phrase an apt title for this post's recipe.

Peppercorns are the fruit of Piper nigrum, an evergreen climbing vine native to the jungles of India's Malabar Coast (my home state Kerala is a part of this). Today, pepper is one of spices that are exported in large quantities from India.

Black, white and green peppercorns are all products of the same plant but each is harvested and handled differently. Green pepper is harvested when the berries are immature (haven't ripened) and bottled in brine to preserve them. These make a wonderful pickle to serve with plain rice and yogurt (or curd rice as we call it here). The green peppercorns have a fresh flavour and are less pungent.

I remember this green peppercorn pickle from my teens, while visiting various relatives during our summer vacations. This pickle was often one of the "pickle" options offered when it was time for the rice and yogurt part of our lunch. It has long been one of my favourite pickles; it’s a tough decision choosing between this one and mango pickles!

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to sample this pickle often enough, simply because I haven't been able to find green peppercorn easily. Even in Kerala, it's not always easy to find green peppercorn, probably because of the good prices that black/ white pepper fetches for the spice farmers.

Green peppercorn seems to be easier to find in Palakkad as my Periamma (my mother's elder sister) usually has a couple of bottles pickled and ready to be served everytime we go visiting her. In fact, the last time we were there she gifted me a bottle of the pickle and that was when our daughter discovered "the pickle".

Last month, Akshaya and her classmates were taken to see a spice farm, as part of a school trip. I had told her not to bring back any spices from the farm, as my spice shelf has more than enough stuff on it already. During the course of the trip, they sat down somewhere on the farm and Akshaya discovered green pepper growing on some vines just next to them. Being very enterprising, she enlisted the help of her friends and brought home a whole bunch of fresh green pepper stalks.

So I called my aunt and pickled the peppercorn according to her instructions. I don't think pickle making can get any easier than this. This pickle doesn't even require you to chop up anything!
Most of our traditional cooking has been and is done without exact measurements and the amounts of ingredients are perfected through practice and intuition. My aunt gave me approximate amounts and I just went with them. I have quantified the ingredients for this pickle but please use them as a guide rather than an exact measurement.

The brine solution will be quite salty and after about a week, the peppercorn will have absorbed enough of the salt to also taste just right. If you feel that the peppercorn isn't salty enough, you may add a little more salt to the brine solution at this time.

(This picture is not very good and overexposed, but this was the only way I could get a picture where the peppercorn could be seen in the brine.)

It is important to remember a few things while making this pickle.

- The green pepper should not be removed from the stalk as you pickle them with the stalks. A few loose peppercorns are fine, though. Just put them into the bottle/ jar.

- The pepper has to be pickled fresh, preferably the very day it is plucked from the vine. Don't postpone the pickling beyond the next day or the peppercorn start discolouring and turning black.

- When the stalks are pickled, ensure they are completely immersed in brine or they will turn blackish in colour.


10 to 12 fresh green pepper bunches

250 ml of water

3/4 tsp turmeric powder

the juice of 2 lemons

2 heaped tsp of salt


Wash the peppercorn and dry them by wiping gently with a towel, making sure the stalks are intact. Keep aside.
In a pan, bring the water to a boil and add the salt and turmeric powder. Simmer for a couple of minutes and take it off the heat. Allow the brine solution to cool down. Add the lemon juice and stir well. Pour this into a sterile glass bottle/ jar. Put the peppercorn stalks into the bottle/ jar, ensuring they are completely submerged in the solution.

Close the bottle and keep it at room temperature. After a week, the pickle is ready to be served. This pickle does not require refrigeration. The peppercorn stalks will change to a somewhat dull and dirty greenish colour after being in the brine. This is normal and doesn't change the quality of the pickle.
This recipe makes one medium sized jam jar of pickle.

This pickle goes to Andrea's Grow Your Own.


sunita said...

Agastya loves tongue twisters and manages to say them without batting an eyelid;this is one of his favourites :-D

Lovely recipe :-)

Nags said...

i grew up in the land of peppercorns but have never seen this pickled green pepper. can't even guess how that must taste!

Aparna said...

That's great, Sunita.
My daughter is good with quite a few and she's practising this one now.:D

I understand, Nags.
I have seen this pickle in many Palakkad Iyer homes yet many of my Malayali friends had never heard of this before, despite pepper being so common in Kerala.

TBC said...

That is simple indeed! :D
I have never seen or heard of this before...

Alka said...

Anything called pickle ,tickles my taste buds
And this is such a simple method,i guess i can use some other veggies too to pickle, keeping the base same
Any ideas??

Vibaas said...

sounds yum aparna. I had green peppercorns for the first time last year. Had a different version though. My relative had mixed it along with the instant mango pickle (where you mix chilli powder and salt and temper it with mustard seeds and hing). It tasted yum.

Sunshinemom said...

I haven't seen the green ones, and am wondering how amazing this must taste!

sra said...

Betty Botter bought a bit of butter but the butter was a bit bitter so ... I've made this and had this - I love green pepper, buy it whenever I see it, which isn't often.

sra said...

Mine had some mango ginger in it too!

Ashwini said...

I have never seen these pickles..This is new..Love pickles..Should try and taste them...

Soma said...

I have to teach this to my daughter, she loves the tongue twisters.. her most recent is the Betty Botter right now (Oh I just saw SRA's comment).

I have never seen this green peppercorn! wonder how it would taste.

jayasri said...

hi, aparna, The photos are so beautiful and at this time of the year & reminded me of the pickles i used to prepare when I was in India, I used to pickle, Manga Ingi, green pepper corns, green chillies, Maakli beru & lime!!!, Oh! ur photo is making my mouth water, I do not get them here, ur discriptions of the farm & everything is making me homesick!!!. but, I have never tried the way u have done them, must tell mom to do it that way, & try it when I go there!!!....

Raaga said...

Amma makes this every year with green pepper and mango ginger. I love popping a little in the mouth... aise hi... helps kill and nausea :)

jayasree said...

One omy favorite pickle. Amma used to add some lemon pieces to it instead of juice. We had some pepper vines in our backyard. So the supply was not a problem. And I miss that now.

Jayashree said...

A very simple and tasty pickle. I usually add lemon and manga inji to mine.

Poonam said...

This is new to me...but looks really interesting...

Happy cook said...

It was really clever of Akshaya to bring this from the farm.
I have not made these at home .
Here we use brined green peppers for making a sauce called green peper sauce for steak, which hubby and shyama loves.

Vaishali said...

Aparna, that's a tongue-twister and a tongue-tickler! What a delicious-sounding pickle.
About your question on the egg replacer, I'd advise substituting an equal amount of cornflour or -- at a pinch -- even rice flour (very, very finely ground). Egg replacer is just a combination of various starches.
The nuttiness of flax could be just a tad overpowering in these delicately-flavored cookies.

Ivy said...

I've never seen fresh peppercorns before and I can imagine how great these will be for your future recipes.

Uj said...

I have never tasted this pickle.. We get fresh pepper from my uncles farm. Will send this across to mom. My hubby loves pickles :D

Bharti said...

hey..I remember that tongue twister from school. You brought back memories. Would love to taste that pickle Aparna. I don't think I'm going to find those kinds of peppers here. And yes, very enterprising of your daughter!

Aparna said...

Mango ginger is one thing you can pickle this way.
You can also make a similar pickle with lemon pieces, ginger and green chillies in brine but you don't need to add the lemon juice. You could add sticks of carrot too.

This is new to me, but sounds good. Shall try it that way when I lay my hands on some more pepper.

Sra, that "bitter butter" one Akshaya does well. My favourite is "she sells seashells on the seashore....."!

So this brought back fond foodie memories, Jayasri.:)

Pepper for nausea.... Diidn't know this one. Must remember it Raaga.

I have read about the pepper sauce, HC.

Thanks, Vaishali. Shall try it with cornflour.

Curry Leaf said...

I wont even attempt the tonguetwister.Love the recipe,but I agree with Nags.Never seen the pickle or even green peppercorn in bulk.I expect it to be hot and spicy,with the lemons adding a tang ummmmmmm :P.WOW I must add.

Mithun said...

Your Recipes site is really great. So I've added your site into my blogsite: http://online-free-recipe.blogspot.com/ & I hope you will add my blog into your site too.

Free Online Recipes

Andhra Flavors said...

I have never seen fresh peppercorns. first time i saw in you pics. lovely one.

Cham said...

First time I am seeing fresh peppercorn. Pickling sounds tasty and never tasted too! U sweet daught is really cool to bring some for u :)

Andrea's Recipes (Grow Your Own) said...

They look so beautiful in the jar! Thanks for sharing your recipe with Grow Your Own.

Claudia said...

I linked to your site from "Grow Your Own" - Andrea - and was inspired to go out and get a peppercorn plant. The garden store had one in stock. I love growing spices and most do very well here in Hawaii.

african vanielje said...

I love learning new things about food. Nojust need to find some peppercorns. The picture is gorgeous and sunsoaked, not overexposed. thanks

african vanielje said...

I love learning new things about food. Nojust need to find some peppercorns. The picture is gorgeous and sunsoaked, not overexposed. thanks

Ancel said...

Hi Aparna,

Thank you so much for posting this recipe, it's exactly what I was looking for. We grow black pepper commercially and I'm always looking for ways to use pepper, this is perfect! I wish I could send you some more green stalks, but I think they would blacken by the time the reached you, come visit our farm at


thanks again, Ancel

Aparna said...

Thanks Ancel, for offering to send me some pepper. Yes, they wouldn't last but the thought counts. :)
Luckily for me, pepper grows well here.

Pradip said...

My son has sent me 1kg. peppercorn from Bangluru yesterday. Trying your recipe today.

Aparna said...

A kg, wow! Hope you enjoy the pickle.