1 lb bag $10.95
Allspice confounded Europeans when they came across this New World berry in the 16th and 17th centuries. Their confusion explains the various names applied to this spice: Jamaican pepper, pimento, allspice. Because black pepper was already in demand in Europe, Spanish explorers seized on the berry’s visual similarity to that highly valued Indian condiment and brought it back home, in hope it could serve as a substitute for the pricey Indian import. There are indeed peppery undertones, but few people would confuse the taste of the two spices. The English would later coin the term “allspice,” referencing the multiple flavors evoked. The most commonly cited are clove, cinnamon and nutmeg. Clove and allspice share the aromatic oil eugenol, which gives both spices warming characteristics. While acknowledging the notes of clove, cinnamon and nutmeg in allspice, many gourmets also discern hints of juniper, ginger, mace and cardamom, in addition to the peppery notes. Given that complicated profile, allspice works well in a wide variety of dishes, both sweet and savory. The whole berries give pizzazz to pickling brine, sauerkraut, chutneys, barbecue sauce and mulled wine. Grind the berries for use in pumpkin and mincemeat pies and gingerbread. Allspice is an essential ingredient in Jamaican jerk seasoning and puts the “Cincinnati” in Cincinnati chili.
If the spice is versatile, the mother tree is not. The Jamaican pepper tree (Pimento dioica) is notoriously finicky about relocating from its native home in the Caribbean, Central America and southern Mexico. Although it now grows in many tropical and subtropical regions, that success is largely because of the export of Jamaican pepper trees, not propagation by harvested seeds. For spice production, harvesters gather the green berries before fully ripe and then dry them. In the drying process the berries change from green to brown.
Allspice has numerous properties beneficial to health. Because of its antimicrobial powers, the Arawak Indians of the Caribbean used allspice to preserve meat. It also helps ease the discomfort of menstrual cramps, toothaches, flatulence, fever and nausea.
Wholesale buyers can buy our allspice berries in bulk, in 1-pound bags.