Allspice berries, which are native to the Caribbean, are the dried, immature fruits of the Allspice Pimento plant, a type of myrtle tree. Allspice is grown across Central America, as well as in some regions of Mexico and South America, despite being a native of Jamaica and the islands. The berries are dried after being plucked while still green. These berries are also known as Jamaica pepper or myrtle pepper because, when dried, they resemble black pepper. Because this spice’s flavour notes include juniper berries, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, the British gave it the name “allspice.”
Culinary uses with a history
Allspice is a common ingredient in many nations’ culinary traditions, both whole and ground. Despite being a native of the Western Hemisphere, the spice is used in a variety of cuisines around the world, including places like German and Western European cuisine as well as Caribbean, Mexican, Southern American, and Middle-Eastern food. Allspice is primarily used in baking and sweet dishes, although it can also be used in savoury dishes, especially to flavour sausages. Although it is typically marketed in its ground state, buying it in raw form and blending it as needed for the recipe will help it retain its flavour better than buying it ground. Before making a powder, the berries are lightly roasted to release their essential oils.
One of the key components of both the Jamaican jerk seasoning and the chilli flavouring is allspice. Additionally, it is widely used during baking, especially when making cakes, cookies, and some spicy bread. It is a necessary component in pickling and occasionally appears in the well-known Mexican dish, named mole. Allspice is also used in Middle Eastern cooking as a flavouring for meat stews and in the widely used Levantine spice blend Bharat, which can be used in a variety of meals as a spice rub, marinade, and flavouring for some pilafs. This spice is also a component in alcoholic beverages, particularly liqueurs and mulled cocktails.
Like bay leaves, the leaves of the allspice pimento plant are also used to flavour food. The traditional Jamaican jerk recipes are traditionally prepared using the tree’s wood as a smoking source.
In herbal medicine, allspice is also used as an antioxidant, digestive aid, and purgative. Its essential oils are used in deodorants, soaps, and perfumes. The wood is used to construct vintage walking sticks.