Introducing the pink peppercorn (Schinus molle). This tree is native to Peru and has small, berry-like fruit that hang on female trees, which vary between pink, red and black. Although not related to commercial pepper, the pink/red berries are sold as pink peppercorns and are often blended with commercial white and black peppercorns. They also make a good insect repellent! They grow wild in Australia. Pink peppercorn season is all but finished, so scurry to http://wildfood.me/ to find locations near you!
I picked my pink peppercorn berries late in the season, so they had already dried out on the branch. I popped them into my spice grinder to make ground pepper, which I'm rolling homemade labne balls in.
HOMEMADE LABNE BALLS (Lebanese Style Yoghurt Cheese Balls, traditional recipe from @elianeskitchen on Instagram):
Labne is a soft cheese made from natural yoghurt. Homemade is much cheaper than bought and it's great fun! I paid $5.80 for a 2kg bucket of Lebanese yoghurt at my local Lebanese grocery store, while 1kg of pre-made labne was nearly $12.
- 2kg of plain Lebanese yoghurt
- Unrefined salt
- Things to roll balls in, eg, chili flakes (my flakes are homemade), za'atar, herbs, pink pepper (wild foraged pepper corns).
- Extra virgin olive oil, eg. Red Island
- Something to hang cheesecloth on
- Glass jars
- To the yoghurt add salt to taste.
- Pour the yoghurt into the cheesecloth and tie the corners.
- Suspend above the bowl (I hang mine from my red bar stools).
- Allow to drain for 12 hours or longer at room temperature. The watery liquid being drained is known as whey, keep it for lacto-fermenting vegetables or protein shakes.
- Once the whey had stopped dripping, place cheesecloth and labne in the fridge overnight.
ROLLING LABNE BALLS:
- Keep your hands moist using olive oil to make the labne easy to roll.
- Roll the labne into a ping pong ball size, then roll in desired coating, eg, wild foraged pink pepper, chili flakes or leave some uncoated.
- Place the labne balls into glass jars. You could add sprigs of thyme and wild basil to the jar, or some hot chillies. Cover everything with extra virgin olive oil or they will go mouldy.
Enjoy in salads, spread on fresh Lebanese bread or as part of a cheese platter.