Black pepper is one of the most commonly used spices in restaurants and at home, and is one of our biggest sellers. Whole black peppercorns are the dried fruit of a vine called Piper Nigrum. These fruits are actually still green and not yet ripe when they’re taken off the vine and set to dry for a few days.
There is a white seed inside, and as the green fruit around it shrinks and wrinkles it also darkens to nearly black. This darkened and shriveled exterior is what we’re used to seeing in a whole peppercorn. The light seed inside is why black pepper lightens up when it is ground, cracked, crushed or otherwise pulverized.
Green peppercorns and white peppercorns are from the same fruit, but processed differently and at different stages of ripeness to attain different colors and flavor.