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White Pepper vs Black Pepper

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Difference between Black Pepper and White Pepper

Both black pepper and white pepper are obtained from the pepper plant (piper nigrum) which is a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae. They are the fruit of pepper plant which is processed differentially to produce white and black pepper. Black peppercorns are picked when almost ripe and then sun dried which turns the outer layer black and wrinkly. To produce the white peppercorns, the outer layer is removed before or after drying. Before using these spices, it is important to know how they differ in terms of flavour and appearance. Let us see how white pepper differs from black pepper!

Black Pepper:

Black pepper is obtained from the dried, immature berries of Piper nigrum. It is a staple in the American kitchens. Black peppercorns are actually berries which are harvested just before ripening and then sun-dried until their surface turns black and wrinkly. This type of pepper is commonly found in the kitchens and most of us are familiar with. Its flavour is more complex than white pepper as it retains the outer layer of the berry which imparts strongest flavour possible. When stored in a sealed container, it can last a year. However, the pre-ground version may lose its best flavour just after few months.

White Pepper:

It is obtained from the berries of piper nigrum plant. It is produced by removing the outer layer of the berry either before or after it is dried so that only the inner seed remains. Generally, the layer is removed by soaking the berry in water which allows the skin to fall off. The other commonly used method to remove the skin is washing it with running water. So white pepper is actually the seed of the berries of pepper plant. Since, it is more exposed than black pepper it may lose flavour faster. It is more expensive than black pepper as its production takes more time and involves more steps.

Based on the above information, some of the key differences between black pepper and white pepper are as follows:

Black Pepper White Pepper
It is the berry of pepper plant which is sun-dried until it turns black and wrinkly. It is the seed of the berry of pepper plant which is produced by removing the skin of berry.
Berry is picked when it is green almost ripe. Berry is picked when it is red and fully ripe.
It is the whole peppercorn with the shell intact. It is the peppercorn without the husk or shell.
Widely used across the world. Used in specific Asian or Indian cuisine.
It has a strong, spicy flavour. It has less complex flavour.
It is less spicy than white pepper. It is spicier than black pepper.
It lasts long, around one year when stored in a sealed container. It does not last long as it has a shorter shelf life so may lose aroma and flavour after few months.
It is used in majority of the French dishes. It is suitable for lighter and earthy dishes like white sauce, often used for aesthetic reasons.
It is less expensive than white pepper. It is more expensive as its production involves more steps.
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