Originally from southern India, Europe had no spice to match its power, so it was exceptionally expensive in ancient times. It was considered on par with meat and medicine in its importance, and an ounce of pepper was worth an ounce of gold. Peppers generally used include black, white, and green. Used in both soups and dishes.
Peppercorns are the berries from a vine used whole or ground as a spice. Black peppercorns, which have the most pungent flavor, are picked slightly underripe, and their hulls oxidize as they dry. Milder white peppercorns are fully ripened berries, husked before drying. Sharp-tasting unripened green peppercorns are sold in water, pickled in brine, or dried. Brine-packed peppercorns should be rinsed before using. Peppercorns can be ground in a pepper mill or crushed coarsely with a mortar and pestle.