Allspice is the aromatic berry of the allspice tree. It is native to India and Mexico, and grows in the Caribbean. It is not a combination of spices but one spice that is reminiscent of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. It is slightly sweet and slightly piquant.
Jamaica is the largest producer of allspice today. It grows on a tropical evergreen that is a member of the myrtle family. The tree produces tiny white flowers. The spice itself has pea size berries. The berries are picked green and left to dry in the sun. The Spanish explorers called the berry pimento because they thought it looked like peppercorns. Eventually it was introduced to Europe in the 17th century.
Allspice can be used both in sweet or savory dishes. It is commonly found in jerk seasonings and ras el hanout.
Originally Published 3-24-11
© 2011 Chef Jennifer M. Denlinger All rights reserved
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