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Tasmanian pepper (Tasmannia lanceolata)
Drimys lanceolata, Drimys lanceolata, Tasmannia aromatica
Australia. The plant is mostly found in Tasmania, but also grows in Victoria and New South Wales.
Used plant part
Dried berries, which resemble black pepper grains in size and colour. The powdered leaves also can be used.
When eaten pure, the berries have a sweet taste in the first second only, followed by intensive pungency which again does not last very long, but gives way to a strange sensation of numbness.
The pungent principle of both the leaves and the berries is polygodial, a dialdehyd with a bicyclic sesquiterpenoid backbone. In the essential oil, mostly monoterpenoid and sesquiterpenoid hydrocarbons were found.
Tasmanian pepper is known and available in Australia only, where it plays an increasing rôle in local cookery. It is used for typical Australian food, e.g. emu hamburger or kangaroo steaks; it is common to marinate meat with a mixture of crushed Tasmanian pepper berries and vegetable oil before grilling or frying. Stews with longer cooking period, on the other hand, are seasoned with the ground grains before serving, because long simmering destroys the taste of this spice.
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