In a nutshell: A wild-foraged spice with a delicate, complex peppery flavour.
Green Alder Pepper (Alnus viridis), or Dune Pepper, is the catkin (or flower cluster) of a variety of Green Alder. It isn’t, botanically speaking, a true pepper. While it is very similar to long pepper in appearance, its taste is quite distinct.
Green Alder Pepper’s aroma is rich and complex, with a strong floral side that verges on musky. It also presents a resinous side reminiscent of pine, invoking its native evergreen forest. It’s great for slow-cooked dishes, pickles of all kind, or for a homemade chutney. It pairs nicely with citrus as well. Of course its flavour is excellent with wild game, be it boiled or braised. Green Alder Pepper has a prickly, peppery taste, and hint of bitterness that can remind regular black pepper, so it can be used in a similar fashion. However, as it is quite resinous, it is not recommended to use it in a pepper grinder as it may jam the mechanism.
Our Green Alder Pepper is grown in Québec’s boreal forests, just north of Lac St-Jean, in semi-wild patches designed to maximise flavour after the harvest. It is gathered between October and December, just before the snow and sun of winter, ensuring it’s harvested at its peak.
About Épices de Cru
Épices de Cru began in 1982 as a catering partnership between Philippe and Ethné de Vienne. Their mission was a kind of “cooking pot anthropology:” learning the secrets of family cooking around the world and applying these techniques to the needs of hungry Montrealers. The secret, they learned, was spices. Over the last two decades, Philippe and Ethné have searched for the world’s best spices, accompanied by their children, Marika and Arik. The de Viennes believe in direct sourcing spices: visiting growing regions, spending time with growers, and developing personal relationships that last decades. In 2004, they officially opened their first spice shop in Montreal’s fantastic Jean Talon market– it’s since become a mecca for foodies from all over the world. I first visited in 2008 and have been buying and using their spices on a regular basis ever since that first exciting visit. They steadfastly maintain that they do nothing original, only facilitating the exchange of culinary common sense from one place to another. But, what they do is simply quite brilliant - by providing us with the finest quality ingredients, and their superb spice mixes, we can all experiment with unusual spices and recreate delicious recipes from around the world.