Difference Between Szechuan Peppercorns and Black Peppercorns

No food is ever complete without fragrant and delicious peppercorns. Peppercorns add vibrancy, a tingling effect, and keep lingering in the mouth to keep wanting more. Szechuan peppercorns and Black peppercorns are used in traditional and western cuisines. They are an integral part of various delicacies and are kitchen staples. 

 Szechuan Peppercorns vs Black Peppercorns 

The main difference between Szechuan peppercorns and Black peppercorns is that Szechuan peppercorn has a numbing effect on the tongue. The sensation is similar to that of tingling. On the other hand, Black peppercorns are spicy and often described as Hot and spicy. It is known for its citrusy flavor. 

Szechuan Peppercorns vs Black Peppercorns

Szechuan Peppercorn is a popular spice used all across the world. It belonged to the shrub family Zanthoxylum. It is a citrus flavoring family of pepper. Szechuan pepper originates in China and is a highly cherished spice for its delicacies. The outer skin of the seed is consumed as a spice in the world due to increasing demand.

Black peppercorns are a local spice to South India. It is comprehensively manufactured in South India and other tropical regions. It is grown for its fruit. It has a place with the blossom plant family Piperaceae. The fruit is harvested, dried, and added to food items as a condiment or seasoning. 

Comparison Table Between Szechuan Peppercorns and Black Peppercorns 

Parameters of ComparisonSzechuan PeppercornsBlack Peppercorns 
Other names Flower Pepper, Dried prickly ash, Dehydrated prickly ash, Indonesian lemon pepperPiper Guineense, Piper Nigrumnoun
Heat LevelIt is less spicy and not as pungent as black pepper.It has a mild to hot spiciness level.
Color It has vibrant colors- Bright red-brown color and green.It comes in three colors- Green, White, and Brown-black. 
SmellIt has a lemony, perfumed smell similar to lavender.It has a fresh woody and warm smell.
Chemical Compound for SpicinessHydroxy-alpha Sanshool provides the numbing effect. Piperine is responsible for mild spiciness.

What is Szechuan Peppercorn?

Szechuan peppercorns have a long history dating back to China. Chinese cuisine traditionally uses Szechuan peppercorns and ginger in their delicacies for their distinctive flavors. The peppercorns have a bitter taste primarily, which turns into a numbing effect. It is popular for its numbing heat, making people want more.

The peppercorns are harvested once a year. The berries of the thorny bushes are hand-picked and laid down in the sun to dry naturally. The peppercorn effect is compared with soft drinks or mild current. 

The fruit opens up in a floral shape on drying. It releases a black seed inside which is edible. These seeds are removed, and the berries are further hand-processed to protect the floral structure and intact the tastes. 

It is a labor-intensive process and takes time to ensure safe and secure fruit. It has an earthy taste and contains citrusy notes. It is used in various dishes and is often used in tropical medicines. It has analgesic properties and is anti-inflammatory. It is prescribed for diverse ailments toothache, eczema, and abdominal pain.

Szechuan peppercorns are readily available in numerous Asian markets and specialty stores. The use of Szechuan has expanded to other cultures and countries like Indonesia, India, Nepal, Thailand, and USA. 

What is Black Peppercorn?

Black peppercorn is harvested for its fruit of Piper Nigrum. The fruit is used to produce two types of Peppercorns- White pepper and Green pepper. The fruit dries to a deeper red color, with a single seed on maturity. It is a popular spice in European cuisine and used as a medicine and flavoring. 

Black pepper comes from the green unripe berries of the pepper plant, cooked in steaming hot water after an exhaustive cleaning. It is dried in direct daylight or handled in a machine for a long time till the seed shrinks and transforms into a badly crumpled seed.

Black pepper is consumed in India since prehistoric times. It was primarily manufactured on the Malabar coast of Kerala. It is considered Black gold and is one of the highly cherished commodities in the world. 

Black pepper is high in anti-oxidants to handle free radicals like smoke, cigarette, sun rays, and pollution. It has anti-inflammatory properties to heal diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Black pepper extract decreases the level of amyloid plaques that damage protein fragments related to Alzheimer’s disease. 

It is versatile and a kitchen staple worldwide. It has a bold flavor and can improve the taste of every dish. It is used in food items like fish, meat, poultry, and more. 

Main Differences Between Szechuan Peppercorns and Black Peppercorns 

  1. Szechuan peppercorn can last up to a year but may lose its aroma and tranquilizing effect over time. Black peppercorns can last for three to four years when stored properly. 
  2. Szechuan peppercorns require hotter climates with moist soil to produce. Whereas, Black peppercorns require high temperatures with frequent rainfall and well-draining soil. 
  3. Szechuan peppercorn should be stored in an airtight jar to last long. There should not be any moisture in the bag or jar. Black pepper should be kept in a sealed bag or container at a dry and cool place. 
  4. Szechuan peppercorn is harvested once a year towards the late summer season in autumn. Black peppercorn harvests between December and January.
  5. Szechuan peppercorn is used in numerous savory dishes like meat, noodle, soups, and pickles. Whereas, Black peppercorn is perfect in dressings, stir-fried vegetables, pasta, meats, etc.

Conclusion 

People love spicy food as eating spicy food incites the hypothalamus and pituitary gland to release the endorphin hormone. It generates a happy feeling. Szechuan peppercorn and Black peppercorn are perfect in numerous dishes. The liking for spicy food is the same as savory and sweet delicacies. 

Szechuan peppercorns are perfect for their pungent flavors and numbness. Black peppercorns have a strong flavor and add bright flavor to the foods. It is used in various western and native cuisines to add instant vibrancy to the food. These are valuable spices with taste and medicinal properties. 

References 

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780857090409500278
  2. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf803067r
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