All About Allspice
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Pimenta dioica (L.)
Plant Family: Myrtle (Myrtaceae) Origin: West Indies
- Allspice, also called pimenta,[a] Jamaica pimenta, Jamaica pepper, myrtle pepper, pimiento, and clove pepper
- The Spanish ‘discovered’ this spice when they reached the Caribbean - they thought it was black pepper and ended up calling it ‘pimenta’ which is Spanish for pepper.
- The name "allspice" was in use by 1621 by the English, who thought it combined the flavour of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
- The warm sweet flavour of Allspice lends itself to a wide variety of both savoury and sweet foods.
- Allspice is often paired with black pepper, cardoon, cinnamon, clove, and vanilla in spice blends.
- It’s grown primarily in Jamaica, but commercial farms can be found across the Caribbean and Central America.
- The berries are harvested while they are still unripe and green. During drying, the colour changes to a reddish-brown.
- Jamaican allspice is considered the best because it has a higher oil content and better flavour than varieties grown elsewhere.
- Allspice is used in Jamaican jerk seasoning and in soups, stews, and curries. It also is used in pickling spice, spiced tea mixes, cakes, cookies, and pies.
- It can also be found in Swedish Meatballs, pickled herring, and many other ‘Traditional’ European dishes.
-Whole dried allspice will keep indefinitely when kept out of light in airtight jars. It can be ground in a spice mill or an electric coffee grinder. The ground spice loses flavour quickly.