Allspice is the dried, unripened fruit of a small evergreen tree, the Pimenta Dioica. The fruit is a pea-sized berry which is sundried to a reddish-brown color. Pimento is called allspice because its flavor suggests a blend of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Allspice is used in seasonings, sauces, sausages, ketchup, jams, pumpkin, gravies, roasts, hams, baked goods, and teas. Caribbean cooking relies on allspice as the main ingredient in jerk seasoning. It is used in Caribbean, Mexican, Indian, English and North American cooking and in seasoning blends such as jerk seasoning and curry.
What The Experts Say
"I add allspice to braised meats--especially pork--at the beginning of the cooking process," says Chef Bradford Thompson of Mary Elaine's at the Phoenician in Scottsdale, AZ. "I also grind whole allspice with black peppercorns as a finish for roasted meats."
Perfect Flavor Partners include:
black pepper, bourbon, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, fennel seed, ginger, nutmeg, orange and vanilla
Most allspice is produced in Jamaica, but alternative sources include Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. Historically, Jamaican allspice has been considered superior because of its higher oil content, better appearance and flavor. Jamaican allspice has a clove-like aroma while the Honduran and Guatemalan varieties have a characteristic bay-rum flavor.
For centuries, the Mayan Indians used allspice to embalm the bodies of important leaders. Allspice is also know as pimiento (Spanish for pepper) because the berries resemble unripened peppercorns and it was one of the spices Christopher Columbus discovered on the Caribbean Islands when he asked the native Indians if they harvested black pepper.
Flavor & Aroma
Pleasant blend of cinnamon and clove
Allspice is generally described as possessing a woody, cinnamon-like flavor which is slightly numbing.