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Black Pepper vs Red Pepper Flakes: Head to Head Comparison

In almost every kitchen in the U.S., if not the entire world, there are two pantry staples black pepper and red pepper flakes. Here we are doing a head to head comparison of the two to provide you guys and gals answers to all your burning questions about them.

Black PepperRed Pepper Flakes
OriginIndiaNorth Macedonia
Food typeDried fruit (berry)Dried fruit
Total time to make2 – 3 years70 – 80 days
Spice level0 Scoville Units
mild spice
15,000 – 50,000 Scoville units
Shelf lifeup to 4 years2 – 3 years
VersatilityWorks on almost anythingPizza, pasta, soups, salads, and more

What is black pepper?

Black pepper comes from a berry, known as a peppercorn, which grows on a vine. When ripened, the berry is approximately 5mm in diameter and has one seed inside it. The berry is green before it ripens, and then turns dark red when it becomes ripe. The black color in black pepper comes from letting the peppercorn dry out, after a quick boil, and letting it ferment. Black pepper is native to Kerala in southern India.

What are red pepper flakes?

Red pepper flakes are the dry and pulverized form of the Cayenne chili pepper. Sometimes other red chili peppers are used, but the most commonly used chili pepper for red pepper flakes is Cayenne. Cayenne peppers originated in French Guiana and the crushed red pepper flake form was most likely originally created in Bukovo in North Macedonia.

How long does it take to make black pepper?

From start to finish, it takes approximately 2 to 3 years to create black pepper from planting the seed. This is mostly because the pepper plant takes 2 to 3 years to grow and mature from a seed. Creating the black pepper most of us know and use daily only takes 7 to 9 days after the peppercorn is harvested off the vine. After the peppercorn dries, it only takes a few seconds to crush or grind into a course or fine powder which can then be added to food.

How long does it take to make red pepper flakes?

From start to finish it takes approximately 70 to 80 days to create red pepper flakes. Almost all the time taken to produce red pepper flakes comes form growing the Cayenne pepper from a seed which takes 70 to 80 days. Drying out the chili pepper takes approximately six hours in an oven. Crushing up the dried chili pepper into flakes takes a handful of seconds in a spice mill or a few minutes in a mortar and pestle.

How spicy is black pepper?

Since black pepper does not have any capsaicin in it, it cannot be measured using Scoville units. The spiciness in black peppers comes in the form of the piperine chemical compound. Black pepper is very mild compared to red pepper flakes.

How spicy are red pepper flakes?

Red pepper flakes have between 15,000 – 50,000 Scoville units, depending on the strength of the Cayenne pepper and how many seeds are mixed in with the flakes. The spiciness comes in the form of the capsaicin chemical compound found in all chili peppers.

When should you use black pepper vs. red pepper flakes?

There is no right or wrong answer here – at the end of the day it does come down to taste. Black pepper is a type of seasoning that can be used during the cooking process, along with salt, to add a bit of flavor to any meal. You can add red pepper flakes to any dish if you want to add a bit of spice to your meal.

You will also often see red pepper flakes being added to meals after they have already been cooked. They are often a great condiment to meals such as pizza or pasta, where individuals can add on as much or as little as they desire to get their desired amount of heat.

Can red pepper flakes be used instead of black pepper?

When it comes to seasoning, yes, red pepper flakes can be used instead of black pepper. However, note that the flavor profile and spiciness are quite different between the two. Although red pepper flakes are hotter than black pepper, black pepper has a more complex flavor and a sharper taste.

If you do not like spicy food, stick with black pepper. If you like the flavor of both and the heat of the red pepper flakes, just add both to spice up any dish!

How many black peppercorns goes into black pepper?

Approximately 32 black peppercorns create 1 teaspoon of ground pepper. One cup of black pepper is the equivalent of 1,536 black peppercorns.

How many Cayenne peppers go into red pepper flakes?

Two dried Cayenne chili peppers equal approximately 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. One cup of red pepper flakes equals approximately 96 Cayenne chili peppers.

What is the difference between red pepper flakes and cayenne peppers?

The difference between red pepper flakes and cayenne peppers is the level of processing. Cayenne peppers are the fresh fruit that grow on the pepper plant. Red pepper flakes are the dried and then crushed form of the Cayenne peppers.

Are red chili flakes the same as red pepper flakes?

Red chili flakes and red pepper flakes are the same. Other common names for red pepper flakes are crushed red pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, red pepper – crushed, and red chili pepper flakes.

How long does black pepper last before going bad?

Stored properly in an airtight container and in a cool dry place, black peppercorns and ground black pepper can last up to four years. Black pepper in its dried form does not spoil or rot like other foods. You can tell that black pepper has gone bad because it will lose its flavor, aroma, and potency.

You can check if black pepper is still good by crushing the black peppercorn and rubbing it between your fingers or in the palm of your hand and smelling it and tasting a little bit of it. If the black pepper has gone bad it will have little to no scent left and the flavor will be less strong.

How long do red pepper flakes last before going bad?

When stored properly in an airtight container and in a cool dry place, red pepper flakes can last up to 2 to 3 years. Like black pepper, red pepper flakes do not spoil or rot, but they do lose flavor, aroma, and spiciness over time.

To check if red pepper flakes have gone bad, rub a small amount of red pepper flake in the palm of your hand and smell it. If there is not much smell, they might have gone bad. You can also check to see if they have gone bad by tasting a little bit: if they don’t taste as spicy as when you first purchased them, then chances are they might have gone bad.