The history of the spice trade essentially about the quest for pepper. Peppercorns and long pepper from the coast of Malabar (India) reached Europe at least 3,000 years ago. Because of the importance of the spice trade these trade routes were fiercely protected and empires were built and destroyed. Pepper has even been used as currency. In 408CE the Goth demanded pepper as a part of their tribute when they laid siege to Rome. And later pepper was traded ounce for ounce for gold and was used to pay dowries, rents, and taxes. The main producers of pepper are India (still!), Indonesia, Brazil, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Our white peppercorns come from India.
White peppercorn berries are picked when they are fully ripened and then husked and dried.The outer shell is removed by soaking the peppercorns in water. White pepper has a subtle, less biting flavor and can be used more liberally than black pepper. In Europe cooks often prefer to flavor creamy sauces and various light-colored dishes with ground white pepper. Our whole white peppercorns are ideally used in a pepper milll. White pepper is a staple in most of my homemade soups for the light color and the warmth that it can add to a dish without the bite of black pepper.