Pepper, it's not all black and white...
It’s easy to forget the thought that goes into creating the
food we see as just cupboard essentials. We see it on the shelves or online,
pop it in the shopping basket (literal or virtual) and then it goes into the
With news coming out that a lot of kiddies don’t know where
their food comes from, it’s so important that even the most common ingredients are made
clear for all to see. Children were guilty of thinking fish fingers came from
farm animals, so a little lesson is worth giving here!
It’s so easy to think of these items as just ‘ready to use’
products that are easily sourced. However, the truth is often very different.
At least the way Verstegen deals with pepper, the story is incredibly
Verstegen takes a lot of pride in making sure their seasonings
are the best quality around, but the level of control that goes into the pepper
production is on another level. For instance, all the pepper berries are hand-picked at source by
our farmers. This is done to ensure that the peppers are at the optimum
ripeness, so they’ll give you the best flavour.
Once this is done, the pepper berries need to be cleaned. To
do this, we rely on traditional methods, where they are all hand-washed on the
premises, to get rid of any imperfections or stray objects that may have worked
their way onto the berries.
The next step requires a level of patience, so Verstegen
likes to once again, stay true to the traditional way of harvesting the finest
quality of pepper. Once picked and washed, the pepper needs to be dried. In
order to stick to stay true to the locals, the pepper berries are all laid out
on a sheet, and dried by the sun.
Finally, after the drying has finished, it’s time for the
pepper to be picked and sorted. Verstegen favour a method called ‘positive
picking’. This means that only the best, purest peppercorns get selected,
leaving the cracked, damaged and unripe peppercorns aside. This also stops
foreign objects such as twigs and leaves making their way into the batch.
Another reason that makes ‘positive picking’ such an effective way of
selection, is that by only picking the best on offer, you ignore any 50/50
pieces of pepper that aren’t too bad. So we end up with the finest pepper
As you can see, so much of our production is carried out at source, using locals who have skills going back decades. With every aspect of our growing monitered closely, we can safely say that our pepper is as good as pepper can be, when we send it out.
So, whenever you see our humble little pepper sitting in
your cupboard, it’s been through an awful lot, just to reach you. Still, don’t
let that put you off using loads of it! We’re great at the production side of
things, so no worries there. Go on, add some seasoning!