Our Tellicherry Black Pepper has a story worth sharing.
Flavour in the balance
As one of the world's most popular spices, there's no shortage of places to get pepper from. But our black peppers journeys from the world's very best pepper region - Kerala in Southern India. High on the mountainous slopes, some 3000 ft above sea level, the elements combine so the peppers can thrive. Surrounded by rainforest and coffee plants, in red, iron-rich soils, the woody vines tower some four storeys above the forest floor. Much like wine and oil, pepper flavours are affected by "terroir"– the local climate and soil. It also means they're well matched to foods from the region.
Heat and monsoon rains help our vines flourish. But all of the elements have to be in balance – too much rain and the crops will perish, too little and they won't grow. Add pests and climate change into the mix, as well as the three years it takes for a vine to mature, and you begin to appreciate just how precious each crop of Tellicherry is. With so many factors at play, it's little wonder these peppers are so sought after.
In the right hands
Careful cultivation and the right conditions will produce just one crop a year. Harvested by hand, an experienced picker will spend thirty minutes clearing a vine, gathering up to 120kg of berries a day. The peppercorns that require drying are left to slowly bake in the sun for up to 10 days, developing their distinctive, rich-brown colour, while the green peppers go off for soaking.
Making the grade
At the local plant the peppercorns go through a process called garbling, where they’re cleaned and sifted for any stones, stems and broken berries. To ensure the peppercorns are bacteria free, they’re then passed through a steam steriliser before being graded.
The peppercorns are sorted by hand, with just 20% of the largest, most uniform coloured berries (this is the signature of consistent flavour) handpicked as Tellicherry Garbled Special Extra Bold. They’re specially sold whole for our grinders. In fact, each Tellicherry spice grinder holds about 3,700 peppercorns – that’s a day’s work for the local farmers.
Our Tellicherry pepper story is one of quality, provenance and, of course, flavour. Why not share it with your customers on your menus, to truly bring home the origins of your food.