Allspice Pimenta dioica
The most misunderstood spice
It has often been said that the difference between a good meal and a great one lies in the use of good herbs & spices. I will attempt to bring you some ideas to get you started on becoming an herb & spice user. Along the way, I hope that you will gain a little knowledge and gain a little courage when it comes to some of the more exotic herbs & spices.
Let’s start with one of the most misunderstood of the more common spices, allspice. Most people think that allspice is a mixture of a bunch of spices. This is a logical assumption given its name. The name comes from how the spice smells and tastes. Allspice berries taste like cloves with a hint of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. The berries come from large evergreen trees. The best are from Jamaica though it is grown in the West Indies and South America. They are small, round and reddish to dark brown. Allspice may be purchased whole or ground. Something that a lot of us here in America don’t realize is that in Jamaica these berries are known as Jamaican Pepper. It is sometimes included in a mix of four peppercorns (black, white, red, and green) and then it is called a five peppercorn blend. Allspice is used both for savory dishes, as well as, sweet dishes.
If you are out of allspice you may substitute cloves.