How to Find Grains of Paradise Spice


Grains of paradise got its name in the Middle Ages when spice traders told buyers that it came from Eden. Amanda Hesser of The New York Times agrees. In an article praising the spice, she wrote, "The spice flavor was pleasantly tempered, ripe with flavors reminiscent of jasmine, hazelnut, butter and citrus, and with the kind of oiliness you get from nuts. They were entirely different from black peppercorns and in my mind, incomparably better." Although the grains have fallen from popularity in lieu of black peppercorns, they are beginning to make a mass-market resurgence. They are even being used to brew Sam Adam's Summer Ale.

Buy Locally

  • Go to a whole foods or spice store. The spice is rare, so it is unlikely to be found at chain grocery stores.

  • Look for the section where spices are found. Be on the lookout for a small bottle of what appear to be black peppercorns.

  • Identify the spice by one of its many names. It can be known as grains of paradise, alligator pepper or aframomum melegueta. Make sure the product comes from Africa.

Order Online

  • Use the Internet to find a specialty spice trader. Grains of paradise can be hard to locate and can be expensive.

  • Search the spice trader's directory for grains of paradise. If nothing comes up under that name, search for alligator pepper.

  • Order the desired quantity and have it shipped to your house.

Take it Home

  • Purchase a table grinder, generally used to grind black peppercorns. Many like to put the grains of paradise in a grinder and use it as a replacement for peppercorns. Leave the grinder on the table to sprinkle the spice on any food you see fit.

  • Steep grains of paradise in your favorite liquor. Make a botanical mix that can include coriander, spearmint, cloves and grains of paradise and leave the mixture to infuse in gin or vodka. The botanical mixture may turn the liquor green.

  • Sprinkle whole grains of paradise over a finished dish as a garnish. Chefs like to garnish fish, chicken and vegetables with grains of paradise. It looks good, it is simple and it is delicious.

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