Allspice: The Versatile Spice
- Allspice is a universal spice that belongs in every spice rack
- Enhances the flavor of soups, cakes, mulled wine, and more
- Pimenta, known for its intense aromas, is a popular spice
What Is Allspice?
Allspice refers to the dried berries of the evergreen pimento tree, scientifically known as Pimenta dioica. It belongs to the myrtle family of plants.
It is also known by the following names:
- Pimenta: Columbus mistakenly believed it was pepper (Pimienta is the Spanish word for pepper)
- Four spice: Due to its taste resembling a blend of pepper, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon
- Clove pepper: Because of its similarity in taste to cloves and pepper
- Allspice: Used as a seasoning
- New spice: As it originated from the New World at that time
- Jamaica pepper: Also known as myrtle pepper
How Does Pimenta Dioica Taste?
Allspice offers a complex aroma and tastes like a combination of multiple spices. It blends pleasant sharpness with flavors of nutmeg, cloves, pepper, and cinnamon. Due to its intense taste, it is recommended to use it sparingly. For ground spice, a knife tip is usually sufficient, while 6-8 berries can be used for a milder taste when cooking.
What Do You Use Myrtle Pepper For?
A common spice combination includes myrtle pepper with laurel and cloves. It can be used to flavor broths, roasts, stews, roulades, goulash, and more. Jamaican pepper is also a key ingredient in popular spice blends such as Berbere, Baharat, Ras el Hanout, African Rub, Tsire, or Marco Polo. It is even included in Christmas spice blends for gingerbread, Cookies, Pain d'épice, and Melange Francoise.
Pimenta grains add flavor to oriental dishes, chutneys, sauces, and curry. You can grind or crush the allspice berries before use. They are also suitable for festive desserts like plum pudding and preserving fish or meat.
What Spices Pair Well with Pimenta?
Pimenta complements the following spices: nutmeg and mace, ground cinnamon, cloves, pepper, rosemary, thyme, coriander, ginger, chili, garlic, mustard.
How Should You Store Jamaica Pepper?
Store allspice in an airtight container in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.
Where Does Allspice Grow?
The evergreen pimento tree originates in Central America and was introduced to India, Asia, and Africa by Magellan. There are over 24 different varieties of Pimenta, ranging from green to red. Christopher Columbus mistakenly thought it was pepper, which led to its name, Pimenta.
What Does the Pimento Tree Look Like?
The Pimento Tree is an evergreen tree that belongs to the myrtle family. It has oval leaves measuring 6-16 cm in length and typically grows to a height of 9-12 meters. Pimento trees thrive in savannah climates with dry and warm summers, averaging a temperature of 25 °C.
Pimento berries mature 3-4 months after flowering, reaching a size of 0.5 cm - 0.8 cm. The spice is harvested from July to September when the allspice berries are still green and immature. Only immature berries contain high concentrations of the flavoring essential oil, Eugenol. After harvesting, the berries are dried in the sun, transitioning from red-violet to brown.