I've heard that whole black pepper is put in sauces for flavour, but it is not supposed to stay there in a finished dish, because it's quite unpleasant to bite on one during a meal. But how does one remove all of it from a sauce / gravy, especially a thick one?

  • 4
    "quite unpleasant to bite on one during a meal" ... probably a contentious point, as long as the peppercorns aren't undercooked to a point where they can wreck teeth. May 13, 2020 at 10:58
  • Pretty-much nothing, and certainly neither pepper nor peppercorns, can be removed after cooking. You could follow suggestions here such as cooking in cloth, and that's as far as you'll get May 14, 2020 at 23:13
  • 1
    Grind it first? Why whole peppercorns? - the only plausible reason is if you do want to bite into one.
    – Mazura
    May 15, 2020 at 1:32

3 Answers 3


One way to steep peppercorns in a sauce is to put them in a tea ball or a tied up piece of cloth which is submerged into the sauce and then removed before serving. If they are just dropped into the sauce they'll have to be strained out, which only works if the sauce is smooth.

  • 2
    In fact, there are larger "tea balls" that are sold specifically as spice infusers.
    – J...
    May 13, 2020 at 14:39

Strain it, or put the peppercorns in cheesecloth which you can easily remove. Obviously both ideas would work better if the sauce was thin then thickened after the peppercorns were removed.


When doing a stew or a Cocido (kind of soup) in Spain, it is common to use bags similar to the ones some people use to wash their clothes without mixing them. We call them cooking mesh.


As you can see, it can be useful for many things, like using the ingredients separately for other food later, or easier separation.

The same works for any food, but the mesh has to change. A tea bag, a thin cloth, any kind of mesh will work! Just make sure the holes are small enough!

  • 20
    ... and the material is food and cooking safe.
    – Stephie
    May 12, 2020 at 17:27
  • 6
    Mesh bags for steeping malt etc. are used in home brewing, so you might find a suitable bag being sold as brewing supplies.
    – HAEM
    May 13, 2020 at 11:45

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