Information about Allspice plus Allspice recipes
Ingredient of the
down for Allspice Recipes
here for previous Ingredients of the Month
(Pimenta diocia, formerly P. officinalis) belongs to the plant family Myrtaceae
(myrtle). It is not a blend of "all
spices," but has the taste and aroma of a mix of cloves, cinnamon, and
nutmeg but with some peppery heat and is strongly aromatic.
Origin and History of Allspice
Columbus discovered Allspice in the Caribbean in about 1494 but the first record
of its import to Europe dates back to 1601. He brought it back to Spain, where
it got the name "pimienta," which is Spanish for pepper, which it is
believed he mistook it for. Before World War II, Allspice was more widely used
than today however, during the war, many trees producing Allspice were felled
and production never fully recovered. It is still very popular in Scandinavia.
is now the main exporter although several other Central American states such as
Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico also produce this spice, however their quality is
considered inferior. Whilst
the main parts used are the unripe and dried berries, in the countries of
origin, the fresh leaves are also used for cooking or smoking meat ("West
Cultivation of Allspice
evergreen allspice tree has a slender and upright trunk and grows to about 20 to
30 feet tall. It takes 15 years before it bears a full crop but the tree can
bear for 100 yrs finally yielding 100lbs of dried berries. The berries are round
and about the size of a pea. Berries are harvested as soon as they have attained
their full size but whilst still unripe and green. The whole twig carrying
bunches of the berries are broken off then spread out and exposed to the sun and
air for some days, after which the stalks are removed and the berries are ready.
Cooking with Allspice
Allspice is usually used in its ground form and can be used in both savoury and
sweet foods. It can often be used as a substitute for cinnamon.