Allspice

Allspice

Although the name suggests a blended combination of spices, allspice is actually a single dried berry from the Pimenta dioica tree. It is native to Jamaica, Guatemala, Honduras, and southern Mexico. During the warmer months, bunches of berries are picked while still green. They are then dried for several days, resulting in small wrinkled berries that are reddish-brown in color. It is a versatile spice that is full-bodied yet works especially well with other spices.

Flavor

Allspice has a warm peppery flavor that is a combination of both sweet and savory. It combines the taste of nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon into one ingredient. Its aroma is similar to a clove; sharp, sweet, and spicy. The berries can be cracked and toasted to release an additional smoky aroma.

Pairs with

Proteins

  • Jerk chicken
  • beef
  • lamb
  • poached fish
  • shrimp
  • pork

Vegetables

  • Carrots
  • beets
  • parsnips
  • zucchini
  • sweet potatoes
  • turnips

Spices

  • Mace
  • cloves
  • ginger
  • cardamom
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg

Spice blends: Pumpkin pie spice, apple pie spice, curry powder, jerk seasoning, pickling and mulling spices, meat seasoning.

Culinary uses

The berries look a lot like peppercorns and can be used whole or ground in recipes. The whole berries are popular for adding studs to Christmas ham, or they can be tossed into a casserole or soup. For desserts, the ground version provides flavor to gingerbread, cakes, hot beverages, and festive dishes like pumpkin pie.

Allspice can be a little overpowering when included in some seasonings, so toasting them in a skillet until fragrant will result in a more subtle flavor.

It is a popular spice used in Jamaican cooking and is a key ingredient in Jamaican jerk chicken. Allspice can also be sprinkled over seasonal vegetables and roasted for amazing flavor.

Substitutes

  • To replace allspice in a recipe then combine equal amounts of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
  • For curry dishes and stir-fries, using Chinese five-spice powder is also a suitable option.
  • For desserts, apple pie spice is a useful alternative, although it contains ginger which won’t work in every dish.
  • Use a half teaspoon of allspice to replace 6 whole allspice berries or vice versa. If you need ground spice, and you only have the whole berries, it is better to grind them.

Storage

Store allspice in a jar or airtight container in a cool, dark place in the kitchen. The whole spices will last up to three years before losing their quality but once ground the flavors won’t last more than 12 months.

Quick Facts

NameDescription
FamilyMyrtaceae
Flavor compoundCineole, eugenol, linalool, myrcene, phellandrene, pinene
Botanical namePimenta dioica
Parts usedBerries
Other namesPimento, Jamaican pepper, clove pepper
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