Two of the simplest and yet most powerful additions you can make to your cooking is the type of salt and pepper you choose to cook with. Grinding your own pepper is far better than buying pre-ground pepper, as the taste of pre-ground cannot come anywhere close to the flavor of freshly ground or cracked pepper. Just think about the difference between instant coffee and a good quality freshly ground and brewed cup of coffee!
Always buy the largest peppercorns as they’ll have the best flavor.
If your peppermill does not allow you to adjust the grind, put some peppercorns into a zip-lock plastic bag. Seal the bag and with a rolling pin or heavy skillet, smash the peppercorns (or whack them) to get the kind of grind you desire.
Use different sizes of grinds for different purposes:
Fine grinds are for seasoning, while a coarse grind is for “flavoring” such as on a salad. For example, you do not want to season a delicate piece of fresh fish with a hearty, coarse grind of pepper.
Black peppercorns pack the heartiest of flavor compare to the other colors of peppercorns. I like to use the combination of 4 or 5 peppercorn blends when cooking.
White peppercorns are actually black peppercorns with the outer black skin removed. White pepper is used when making a white sauce or delicate colored sauce.
Cayennne pepper is ground from a variety of chile peppers.
Add a dozen or so whole peppercorns to a peppershaker to keep the pepper shaking easily and to freshen up the flavor of the pre-ground pepper.
Just like dried herbs and spices, store peppercorns in a cool, dark place for up to one year. Pre-ground pepper should be stored no longer than 3 months as it quickly loses its’ flavor.