Wild Tailed Peppercorns

Katherine Loffreto

The history and origin of the Wild Tailed Peppercorn is truly fascinating. The fact that it can only be found in the wild makes it a rare and interesting addition to your spice collection. Truly, it has one of the most unique flavor profiles of all the spices we offer (and that says a lot) with a lingering and haunting aroma. Not only is the flavor something to behold, but its appearance is quite striking as well. Smallish pear shaped bulbs are attached to a single thin stem – the very stem that the peppercorn was picked from. It’s almost as if you plucked it from the wild yourself!

Alright, enough with the romantics. Let’s dive into the origin of these beauties. This unusual pepper hails from Madagascar – where, unlike most peppers around the world – it is foraged from the wild, rather than grown on farms or plantations. The pepper is in the piper family, though not part of the Nigrum classification like a traditional black peppercorn. Rather, it is part of the borbonense species. The pepper grows wild in the steamy tropical forests of South-East Madagascar.

The traditional name for the pepper is a real mouthful – Voatsiperifery. We warned you. The name itself has a fascinating history. “Voa” means fruit in Malagasy (the local language) and “tsiperifery” is the name of the plant itself. So these peppery berries are literally the fruit of the tsiperifery plant. The rare pepper is only harvested in the heat of the summer, when the berries are perfectly ripe and the aromas are at their height. Local gatherers will pick the pepper fruits from June to August, before drying them in the hot Madagascan sun and sending them out into the world. Picking the fruits is a dangerous game, as the vines that the peppers grow on tower into the sky and can be as tall as 10 meters! The berries only grow at the top of these tall vines – seeking the most sun they can get. We’re glad the pickers are willing to risk life and limb for these precious peppers – the flavor is well worth the trouble!

Let’s jump into the flavor. It’s no surprise that a rare pepper like this, with such extreme and dangerous sourcing techniques, must be a real winner in the flavor category. It is, and certainly won’t disappoint. The heat is moderate, a delicate spice that won’t overwhelm the other flavors of the pepper or the ingredients in your dish. The aroma is complex, with woody, fruity, and floral notes. The flavor itself is deeply woodsy with notes of bark, forest moss, smoke, and herbs. High notes of bright citrus and exotic floral perfumes round out the flavor.

So, now that you know all about it, how is it best used?? Because the pepper is so exquisite, we recommend using it on something fancy! Though everyday use is certainly encouraged. Try cracking some of the Wild Tailed Peppercorn over roasted duck or foie gras. A little goes a long way on a fine piece of beef like wagyu ribeye or a slice of mangalitsa pork. Even strongly flavored seafood like bluefish and mackerel would benefit from the Wild Tailed Peppercorn. This unusual little peppercorn would make a huge impression on your guests and could quite possibly be the most intriguing addition to your spice collection yet. Get spicing!

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