Peppercorns are the berries from a vine used whole or ground as a spice. Black peppercorns, which have the most pungent flavor, are picked slightly underripe, and their hulls oxidize as they dry. Milder white peppercorns are fully ripened berries, husked before drying. Sharp-tasting unripened green peppercorns are sold in water, pickled in brine, or dried. Brine-packed peppercorns should be rinsed before using. Peppercorns can be ground in a pepper mill or crushed coarsely with a mortar and pestle.