Pondicherry Peppercorns

Pondicherry Peppercorns
Pondicherry Peppercorns
100981 001
Net Weight:
2.7 oz
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Pondicherry Peppercorns (pronounced “paan-duh-cheh-ree”), Piper nigrum, are also called red peppercorns, red pepper corns, or Pondicherry pepper.

Red Peppercorns have .9% - 3.0% essential oil.

What is Pondicherry Pepper

Pondicherry Red Peppercorns are treasured for their unique flavor, aroma, and appeal. These are exceptionally hard to find even at specialty spice shops and online retailers.

Named for the historic Indian port once called Pondicherry (renamed in 2006 Puducherry), these red peppercorns are harvested after fully ripening and have a sweeter flavor than Black Peppercorns or Green Peppercorns. Don't get these confused with Pink Peppercorns, Schinus terebinthifolius, which are actually the ripe berry from the ornamental Brazilian pepper tree, a member of the cashew family, and are not related at all to peppercorns.

While coming from the same vine as Green, Black, and White Peppercorns, true Red Peppercorns are rare and expensive. This is because they are left on the vine the longest, which means there's a higher risk of loss, due to ripe berries falling to the ground and birds eating them, which naturally produces a lower yield. Green peppercorns are harvested early in the season, in January. Red peppercorns are left on the vine for an additional 2-3 months and are typically harvested between March and April when they're fully ripened.

Red peppercorns are from of the same fully mature berry used for white peppercorns. White peppercorns are soaked in water after harvesting which allows the berry’s outer skin to break away. Red peppercorns are harvested, boiled briefly in water and then dried. More of the red berries are used to produced White Peppercorns than red.

History of Peppercorns

Peppercorns have been used in Indian cooking since at least 2000 BC with early trade routes popping up between Kerala and traders from the Middle East by at least 1200 BC. Peppercorns were included in mummification ceremonies, including that of the Egyptian King Ramses II (reigned 1279–1213 BC). By 100 BC, peppercorn was being traded into China, where the wealthy preferred them over their native Sichuan pepper.

Ancient Rome also highly valued piper nigrum, even at one point using it as currency. But pepper’s popularity in Rome would eventually fade with the introduction of Long Pepper, a genetic cousin of piper nigrum (and also from India).

With the fall of the Roman Empire (476 AD), Muslims acquired tremendous influence and control along the Silk Road. When Venice and Genoa merchants signed spice trade treaties with the Muslims this monopoly again drove up peppercorn’s value.

Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama arrived by ship in Calicut, India in 1498 and was not welcomed warmly by the Muslim traders there. The opening of this sea route would bring additional competitors and by the 1700s the demand for pepper had continued to increase, but the increase supply lowered prices which allowed more and more Europeans to buy pepper.

Peppercorns in India are primarily cultivated in the states Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. Kerala accounts for about 90% of the pepper farmland and 95% of the pepper production in India. Pondicherry Red Peppercorns are grown in Eastern Ghats region of Tamil Nadu.

Red Peppercorn Cultivation

Peppercorn plants can be grown through cuttings or seeds, but usually cuttings are used. The vines take about three years to mature enough to produce peppercorns. After the vines have matured and begin producing fruit, they will continue to do so for about fifteen to twenty years, but some may be viable for even longer than that. Vines are frequently wrapped around poles to encourage upward growth. The plants may reach up to 25 feet tall if properly cared for. This style of upward growing saves space for more vines to be grown in a smaller space and helps the peppercorns get even sunlight exposure.

Pepper is a humid tropic plant, which requires a long rainy season and high humidity. The plant thrives in temperatures between 50° - 100°F, with well distributed annual rainfall of 50 – 80 inches. Pepper can be grown in a wide range of soils such as clay loam, red loam, sandy loam and lateritic soils, though in its natural habitat, it does best on virgin soil rich in organic matter. Peppercorns in general are very sensitive to the sun so they need some relief from the direct rays, they are often protected with coconut fronds or shade cloth on especially intense days.

Pondicherry berries are harvested when fully ripe (red in color) and the berries must be picked by hand. The fruits are cleaned (separated from debris such as leaves, stems, dirt, and small stones) and then boiled for about 10 minutes before being spread out on mats or plastic sheets to dry in the sun for 2-3 days. Depending on the weather drying may also be done by solar or mechanical dryers. The drying process gives berries the wrinkled look and dark reddish-brown color.

Where Are These Red Peppercorns From


What Do Pondicherry Peppercorns Taste Like

Slightly sweet, with a berry-like flavor, mildly spicy, and bold heat. The heat lingers for a long time at the back of the tongue.

What Are Red Peppercorns Good For

Red peppercorns have this wonderful, sweet quality that is excellent with fish, lobster or shrimp. It also makes a wonderful partner for citrus fruits like mandarins or clementines and pairs nicely with ginger, honey, and lime.

Since we've already mentioned ginger, why not try out a spicy ginger cookie with this pepper? Swap out the black pepper called for in just about any recipe with Red Peppercorns to give an unexpected nuanced fruitiness into your dish. Use Red Peppercorns on salads, especially fresh orange chicken salads, and when coarsely ground, they add wonderful texture and flavor to sauces, and roasted veggies.

1/4 cup Red Peppercorns = approximately 1 oz. ground peppercorns.

What can be Used Instead of Red Peppercorns.

Peppercorns can be substituted for one another, so you can use Malabar Peppercorns or Pink Peppercorns with their spicy-sweet flavor and citrus undertones. Both can be used at a 1:1 ratio.


IngredientsRed Peppercorns
Also CalledPondicherry peppercorns, red pepper corns, or Pondicherry pepper
Recommended UsesUse with citrus fruits, honey, sauces, seafood, and roasted vegetables
Flavor ProfileSlightly sweet, with a berry-like flavor, mildly spicy, and bold heat
Oil Content.9% - 3.0%
Botanical NamePiper nigrum
How To StoreAirtight container in a cool, dark place
Shelf Life1-2 years
Country of OriginIndia
Dietary PreferencesGluten Free, Non-GMO


Hungry for More Information

Spice Cabinet 101: Peppercorns
Flavor Characteristics of Spices
Which Spices do You Grind
What Spices Go With what Meat


Nutrition Facts

Serving Size1 tsp

Amount Per Serving


% Daily Value*

Total Fat0g0%

Saturated Fat0g0%

Trans Fat0g

Polyunsaturated Fat0g

Monounsaturated Fat0g



Total Carbohydrate1.8g1%

Dietary Fiber0.7g3%

Total Sugars0.0g

Added Sugars0g0%

Sugar Alcohol0.0g


Vitamin D0mcg0%




*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice. These values were calculated and therefore are approximate. For more accuracy, testing is advised.

4 out of 5
4 total ratings.

Eric J. (Verified buyer) 09/24/2020
Better than Tellicherry black pepper Pondicherry pepper has a much more complex flavor than the standard Tellicherry black pepper.

John A. (Verified buyer) 09/02/2019
My most versatile pepper I was introduced to Pondicherry Peppercorns 18 months ago and must say it is one of my most versatile spices. It provides a lighter pepper kick with fruity tones and great depth. In contrast, black pepper is more one dimensional while Pondicherry is 3D techniColor!

Caroline C. (Verified buyer) 03/05/2019
Pondicherry is fantastic These peppercorns are wonderful, full of aromatics and replete with flavor. They enhance subtlety. I use these peppercorns daily.

Diane S. (Verified buyer) 09/24/2020
Not that great This is VERY expensive and to tell the truth it doesn't taste that much different from black peppercorns. Sorry will not be buying any more.