The sweet, musky, spicy, fruity aroma of long pepper (Piper longum) is utterly different from that of its more common cousin, the black peppercorn. It’s also much, much harder to grind.
jumpingmonk has a fondness for long pepper, but says “grinding the stuff up into a usable powder/small chunks has been continually baffling me.” Crunching up this dense spice in a low-tech mortar and pestle is extremely hard on the wrists. A coffee grinder is not up to the task, and with an electric grinder you have to grind up a whole bunch at a time (even if you only need enough to season an omelet). A regular pepper grinder can’t grind long pepper at all, besides which “if you don’t whack the stuff with a hammer the peppers are too big to fit in it,” says jumpingmonk.
One solution is to use a Microplane grater and shave long peppers as you would nutmeg, says nmo. This works, says jumpingmonk, but be very careful. Long peppers are about an inch and a half long and less than a quarter inch wide, so it’s tricky to grate them without accidentally slicing your fingers. “I’m beginning to see how the stuff, tasty as it is, fell out of favor in the West once black pepper showed up on the market: the latter’s a lot easier to turn into seasoning form!” says jumpingmonk.
Check out the CHOW story Pepper is the New Salt for more on pepper varieties and their uses.
Board Link: Long pepper how the *#&@! do you grind it?