The Grocer: Mountain Pepper
The mountain pepper tree is a very clever tree indeed, for it produces edible leaves and berries, both of which have a multitude of uses.
Mountain pepper – known as Tasmannia lanceolata to our scientist friends – is a rainforest shrub commonly found in the frostiest regions of Southern New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Remarkably versatile, the tree’s waxy green leaves and luminous, pea-sized berries – both of which can be used in sweet and savoury dishes – contain a compound called polygodial, which delivers a hot, peppery punch. For those with sensitive tongues, beware – the heat can be unforgiving!
Pepperleaves are typically used fresh as a garnish or dried and milled as a flavour ingredient in sauces, chutneys, flavoured cheese and olive oils. Pepperberries can be used fresh, frozen or dried as a pungent spice, and thanks to their rich plum hue, bleed a lovely soft-pink colour into marinades, sauces, and yoghurts.
If you’re partial to a hit of heat, try saltbush and mountain pepper squid salad, hasselback potatoes with beetroot pepperberry salt, or a simple, yet effective pepperberry butter. If you fancy wowing guests at your next dinner party, take a risk and serve up lemon myrtle and pepperberry ice-cream. Just have a jug of water on hand.
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