Australian Functional Ingredients – by Vic Cherikoff

Alpine Pepper - the King of Spices

alpine pepper
(Alpine pepper is a uniquely Australian, aromatic pepper mix with a slow burn to ignite your tastebuds)

Spicemaster notes for Alpine pepper:

COLOR – Alpine pepper has olive and pastel green herb pieces with flecks of dark purple crumb from the fruits of the spices; sumac and pepperberries

AROMA – woody peppery note with a hint of fruit

PALATE – Alpine pepper has an herbaceous short palate with a conventional pepper zing then exhibiting an increasing back of throat burn with rich woody note and a hint of green tea.

It is a mixed peppery blend with mountain pepper and pepperberry scented with forest anise and sumac to enhance the fruitiness and a little conventional pepper for some short pepper notes. Alpine pepper is lightly adjusted with just a hint of salt, then made punchy with encapsulated mountain pepper leaf extract.

Typical uses – Use Alpine pepper as an all purpose substitute whenever ordinary black pepper is added. In the kitchen, at the table, at the BBQ or grill on any meats or vegetables, mix into batters, breads, alpine pepper is probably more versatile than Lemon Myrtle Sprinkle and is certainly as good for your health.

Helpful hints – The flavours of Alpine pepper are best expressed on warm foodstuffs.

Packaging – 30g canisters and sachets, 160g shakers, 1kg bags and 10kg bag in box

And here’s a little more background and history on Alpine pepper:

Not all pepper’s pepper

You may think that you have tried all the varieties of pepper before but here is a totally new one. Sure. There’s black, grey and white pepper as well as green, pink and red pepper which all come from the same plant (a climber, originally from India). You may have even tried betel pepper, Indian long or Javan long peppers or the rough-leaved pepper – all are different species of the same genus, Piper.

However, here in Australia, we have a totally new type of pepper which is more closely related to the source of aspirin or oil of Wintergreen than to the tropical true pepper vine. We call it mountain pepper and it’s actually a herb although the berries or pepperberries are also used – sparingly. I say this because chewing on a few berries is like having a grenade go off in your mouth.

It’s all in the blending

My Alpine pepper is a carefully considered formulation of the peppery leaves of mountain pepper along with some of the dried and milled fruits of this high country shrub. Think of the firey leaves, draped in snow in the winter and blasted by Antarctic winds kissing the icy valleys where this tough plant grows. I also include a specially prepared, encapsulated extract of the leaves which imparts that instant zing of bushy heat. There’s some aniseed myrtle which not only ideally complements the taste but adds to some serious functionality in that the combination is super-strongly anti-microbial so that there is some preservative action when using Alpine pepper as a marinade. Finally, I have added an amalgamation of the tangy, Middle Eastern sumac for its fruitiness to enhance the same flavour from the pepperberries and the conventional Piper corns in their black and white forms are added for those familiar pepper notes.

I grab for the Alpine pepper as most cooks would for a peppermill. It can easily and deliciously substitute for ordinary pepper on meats, seafood, soups, vegetables, eggs and cheese dishes. Use it to taste and you’ll discover that Wow! factor you want in your food.

But Alpine pepper can also be used in far more ways than just as a seasoning over cooked dishes. Use it as a dry marinade on meats or add it to breads, batter and pastry as a herb mix. It makes the best salt and pepper squid I have ever tried.

Now here’s something I discovered by accident – Try sprinkling Alpine pepper over raw or cooked fruit or mix it into ice cream (particularly strawberry flavoured), yoghurt, cream cheese or custards. Alternatively, generously season peeled and sliced bananas with Alpine pepper and pan-fry them in butter and a dash of your favorite oil (olive, macadamia, avocado, walnut, pumpkin seed, whatever) until they just brown and soften. Serve with ice cream and a small cup of strong coffee.

By the way, I store my Alpine pepper on the door of my freezer. It keeps the aromatics fresh and is always at hand so it won’t go the way of less valued spices which get buried and lost or just forgotten in my pantry cupboards.

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Vic Cherikoff