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Allspice (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

Christopher 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.

Jamaica 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 Indian bay-leaf").


Cultivation of Allspice

The 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.




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