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Know of a Peppercorn Variety or Alternative that Grows in Cascadia/Zone 7b?

 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
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Location: Pacific Northwest
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duck forest garden hugelkultur
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I would love to grow more of my favorite seasonings and flavors, both to be more local as well as to be prepared for disaster (hey, who knows, the end of the world as we know it might happen!). Most of my favorite seasonings and herbs can grow here, or I can do without them. BUUUUUT, what about black pepper?! It is the most wondrous seasoning, making everything yummy. We use it on most everything and it's just as much as staple in our diet as salt is. As far as I can tell, though, it does not grow here, needing zone 11 or 12 weather. Goodness, it doesn't seem to grow naturally outdoors pretty much anywhere in the US (http://www.offthegridnews.com/survival-gardening-2/the-ultimate-guide-to-growing-black-pepper/).

Are there other plants that have the same or similar flavor profile as black pepper? Anything easy to grow or that is a perennial? Reading through an old medieval cookbook, I see fennel/anise used almost as much as we use pepper. But, as much as I like fennel, it isn't pepper!

Any ideas?

Thanks!
 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
Posts: 1109
Location: Pacific Northwest
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duck forest garden hugelkultur
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I've been searching the web, and so far I've found people substituting these in place of peppercorn:

Juniper Berries: (Hardy to zone 1!) Supposedly tastes piney and citrusy and is traditionally used in Scandinavian cuisine for seasoning meat dishes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juniper_berry). So far, this seems the easiest option, as juniper likes to take over here, though it doesn't sound too peppery to me, though I guess traders used to used to mix it in with their pepper to trick buyers...

Sumac Berries: (Most varieties hardy to zone 3, Staghorn sumac supposedly having the best flavor) Lemony flavored. Doesn't sound peppery at all, but does grow easily and is native here. (http://www.seriouseats.com/2013/09/foraged-flavor-all-about-sumac.html).

Pink Peppercorn/Schinus molle: (Hardy to zone 8 or 9) Tastes like pepper, but is slightly toxic according to some sources. Considering the amount of pepper I use, I don't think this is a viable option! (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schinus_molle)

Papaya Seeds: (Hardy to zone 9) Supposedly tastes just like pepper...but it doesn't grow here. Plus, I can't imagine getting that much "pepper" from one papaya tree... (This person did manage to grow some in zone 5-6, though! http://forums.gardenweb.com/discussions/2187401/fruiting-papaya-in-zone-5-6)

Coriander: (self-seeds in many areas). Citrusy and earthy, not much like pepper...

Szechuan Pepper: (hardy to zone 6). Once again, supposedly tastes lemony and it makes your mouth numb (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sichuan_pepper).

Mountain Pepper or Tasmanian Pepper (Hardy to zone 7): Supposedly tastes like pepper! One problem is, many varieties have sasfrol, which is considered carcinogenic (same compound that's in sassafras). http://www.monrovia.com/plant-catalog/plants/2867/mountain-pepper/



I'm kind of wondering why almost all the plants that "taste like pepper" supposedly taste lemony/citrusy...

Anyone have any other ideas for peppercorn-flavored plants, or notes on how these other plants actually taste?

Thanks!
 
Jay Grace
Posts: 229
Location: Nauvoo, AL
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On the topic of carcinogenic properties of sasfrol.
The studies Ive seen accomplish this by giving lab animals 1000's of times the amounts anyone would naturally consume.
Basically forcing the animals to live solely off of sassafras or giving them pure sasfrol in large doses over a long period of time.


I mean the WHO just labeled red meat in the same carcinogenic class as cigarettes.


I think moderation is key in just about everything when it comes down to it.




 
Ken W Wilson
Posts: 381
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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I've heard of a mushroom that's supposed to taste very peppery and has been used for a substitute. I'll try to look up the name this evening.
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