18 Aug2016


I just couldn’t believe my own eyes. Futzing around the garden the other day, I noticed a lush plant that from afar, looked like it had really healthy betel leaves. But on closer inspection the leaves were thicker, waxier and there were these strands of small green nubs. I got so excited and had to look it up, and yes, I think, for some bizarre reason, the crew have unwittingly coaxed a piper nigrum plant to grow and bloom in our backyard!!


Honestly, I can’t remember where this plant may have come from. A friend/reader dropped off several seedlings several years ago now, but I can’t recall if she included a pepper plant (it seems too small even now to have been from that batch). And the last time I had fresh green peppercorns was from a market in Vietnam many, many years ago. And you can’t just plant whole black peppercorns from a store as they are unlikely to germinate.


So I will go with a bird pooping a ripe peppercorn, a discarded batch of good peppercorns from the province that were never treated to anything, or just sheer bloody luck for this robust plant that happens to be in a large pot and is now growing like crazy with the recent rains in Manila.


I’m not quite sure when to pick the peppercorns, some websites say when they are dark green, others seem to show it darkening on the vine. But I can also see making a fresh green peppercorn sauce for a nice steak or two…


Still giddy from discovering this plant in the backyard, I took a closer look to take more photos and noticed the ribbons used to tie the vine to the makeshift bamboo trellis… sosyal peppercorns, is all I can say. :)



  1. Footloose says:

    Top pic is adorable. Last one holds the requisite cashet.

    Had a taste of green peppercorns in Chili Crab in Singapore so many years ago and its unique green scent has remained with me all these years. Could not replicate the dish in its absence at home no matter how hard and how often I tried.

    You are fortunate to harbour elves in the bottom of your garden to make up for your lack of green thumb to coax rare ingredients such as this to thrive.

    Aug 18, 2016 | 7:12 pm


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  3. Marketman says:

    Footloose, you are right. SANTA definitely appreciates his elves. See this old post on the green peppercorns from Vietnam… unfortunately, the link to the photo of chili crab no longer exists! Brought it in my luggage filled with ingredients…

    Aug 18, 2016 | 7:25 pm

  4. Footloose says:

    sp. s/b cachet not cashet.

    Aug 18, 2016 | 7:27 pm

  5. Marketman says:

    Hahaha, I actually liked the “cashet” spelling… imagined it with an exaggerated collegiala accent. :)

    Aug 18, 2016 | 7:31 pm

  6. lookie says:

    Nice filler for your flower arrangements,both the peppercorns and the leaves…how about for wedding bouquets!.

    Aug 18, 2016 | 9:19 pm

  7. Natie says:

    I’m excited for you, too!!

    Aug 19, 2016 | 4:20 am

  8. Gej says:

    Beauty! I can eat them fresh. Pl share what you will do with them.

    Aug 19, 2016 | 6:24 am

  9. joe jj says:

    Reminded me of Sonya’s green peppercorn in olive oil. Perfect for your chimney bread above sans maybe cinnamon sugar.

    Aug 19, 2016 | 11:55 am

  10. marixie says:

    my father planted a peppercorn vine in our backyard in Davao when I was in 4th grade. He’d harvest the “corns” when they turned red and dry them in the sun to make them turn black. Then he’ll take them to the city to exchange (kilo per kilo) for grapes at the city grocery “suki”.

    Aug 22, 2016 | 10:20 pm

  11. Ron says:


    Aug 24, 2016 | 11:00 pm

  12. WireMonkey says:

    That’s amazing how well that plant’s doing (especially if it’s a volunteer). I had to order a few Piper nigrum plants for my work in Los Angeles nine months ago and they declined very steeply and are only now just starting to recover.

    Aug 26, 2016 | 7:16 am

  13. ykmd says:

    So strikingly green and pretty, and beribboned by Hermes, no less :) Belated happy birthday, MM! Do share what you eventually use the peppercorns for.

    Aug 27, 2016 | 4:32 am

  14. Marilen says:

    wow – such a delightful surprise!

    Aug 27, 2016 | 6:43 am

  15. Monty says:

    There used to be a local agricultural show called “Ating Alamin” hosted by Gerry Geronimo. It went all over the country highlighting the different agricultural products and how they were produced. I seem to remember them doing a segment on black pepper and how it was grown and processed in Batangas or some other province. Ating Alamin was really a very informative show that I think you would have enjoyed.

    Aug 27, 2016 | 10:03 am

  16. Lee says:

    we also have a few vines growing wildly in our garden. i’ll be on the look out for fruits too. :)
    the bunch of peppercorns don’t change color at the same time. my tatay says to harvest the bunch of pepper corns once one fruit in the bunch has turned red. then they’re sundried til they turn black. :)

    Aug 28, 2016 | 6:29 pm


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