Our Fermented White Pepper comes from a family farm on the island of Bangka, grown by a farmer named Pak Sugiri and his son, Ilham. They're picked fresh and then fermented according to traditional methods, using the fruit of the fresh peppercorn.
Highly prized in Indonesia but rarely found in the US, they add a deep umami flavor and funk to everything they touch. Grind over steak to mimic the flavor of dry aging, over veggies for heat and depth, or in traditional Cantonese and southeast Asia dishes calling for white pepper.
Origin: Bangka Island, Indonesia
Aliases: Montauk white peppercorns
Process: Fermented in a stream, then washed and sun-dried
Ingredients: 100% fermented white peppercorns (Piper nigrum)
Bangka Island in Indonesia is famous for the particular fermentation process that farmers use to process their peppercorns, picking fresh pepper and soaking them in open-air fermentation pools for two weeks, using the natural sugar in the peppercorn fruit to create a white pepper that's savory, cheesy and unlike any other we've tasted.
Since we're huge fans of anything funky and fermented, and of spices with very specific methods of processing, we had to go to Bangka to find a farmer to work with. Ethan had planned a trip in the summer of 2017, around the time of the pepper harvest. While he was preparing for the trip, 2 days before he was scheduled to arrive in Bangka, he got an email, totally out of the blue:
"Dear Ethan Frisch,
I introduce myself my name is Sugiri, I am from Bangka Island have white pepper garden as shown attached.
I see email on your web ( www.burlapandbarrell) that you sell many kind of spices. I would like to offer the corporation to sell pepper to your company, we can start with little volume first then if it is success, we can cooperate for long time. Let me know if you are looking for organic or conventional pepper.
Finally, this is the offer from me and I will wait good news from you. Thank you very much, have a great day.
Best Regards, Sugiri"
Ethan responded that he'd be right over.
It turned out that Sugiri had grown up on the farm but left to pursue a 20-year career in IT in Bandung, one of Indonesia's bigger cities. As his parents got older, he and his son Ilham decided to move back home to take over the farm.
Ethan visited a dozen farms around the island but was struck both by the quality of Sugiri and Ilham's peppercorns and their entrepreneurialism and hustle. Unfortunately, they weren't quite ready to export at the time, but we're very excited to announce that two years later, we've brought in the first small shipment of their fermented white peppercorns.