September 20th 2019
First things first - allspice is just one spice, not a blend. Many of you kitchen-dwellers may already know this, but many people erroneously believe allspice is a mixture of seasonings. It smells and tastes like a combination of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves, (hence the name) but it all comes from a single dried berry.
Allspice is picked ripe and then allowed to dry naturally under the tropical sun. Once dried, the reddish-brown berries are either shipped whole, or ground up into a very fine, almost chalky powder. If you ever found a beach that felt (or smelled!) this nice, you’d never want to leave it.
If it Looks Like Pepper, It Must Be Pepper
As the only spice that grows exclusively in the Western Hemisphere, allspice was unknown to the first Spanish explorers to reach its native lands in South and Central America. Assuming the small berries were black pepper, they called it pimenta, the Spanish word for pepper. The tree it grows on, a kind of myrtle, even took the name Pimenta Officinalis Lindl, and today many know allspice as pimento, or even Jamaican pepper.
The Spanish brought the spice back to Europe, and tried to grow it in the eastern spice regions. It never caught on with European consumers, and the plants failed to produce fruit. It was apparently popular with Russian soldiers, however, who put it in their boots during the early 1800s to keep their feet warm. (Not an application we endorse!)
A Spice For All Seasons
Fast forward to today, and allspice finds its way into recipes around the world. In the west, it’s commonly found in fall and winter baking and beverages, like Christmas pudding, pumpkin pie, and mulled cider. Of course, it’s great in warm weather, too; many Caribbean specialties call for allspice. And you can’t do Jamaican jerk seasoning (where a lot of allspice is grown) without this fragrant spice.
It also features prominently in Greek sauces and marinades. You’ll even find it mixed in to beverages from hot chocolate to horchata, a sweet rice drink popular in Mexico. For cocktail enthusiasts, you can mix up an Allspice Dram from allspice berries, cinnamon, sugar, and rum. Cheers to that!
Allspice is All Ready For You
What can you do with allspice? What can’t you do with it? The flavour is certainly exotic, but it’s still homey and accessible, adding a comforting level of spice to everything from sweet desserts like gingerbread, to dry rubs for savoury meat dishes. To add warmth without scaring off consumers who love flavour, but prefer less heat, allspice is a perfect starting point. You can also use it to balance sweetness in fruit-based products like pies, tarts, and jams.
Numerous healthy properties are ascribed to allspice, as well, and it contains minerals and antioxidants. All this makes it ideal for your better-for-you snack, or health supplement applications.
To start your allspice journey, just ask us for more details. We can provide an information kit and product samples for both whole and ground allspice. Simply fill out the form online and submit. Get ready to say, “All right!” to allspice!