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Jewish Recipes --> Spices and Ingredients -- > Allspice

Allspice, also called Jamaica pepper, Myrtle pepper, Pimento, or Newspice, is a spice which is the dried unripe fruit of the Pimenta dioica plant. The name "allspice" was coined by the English, who thought it combined the flavour of several spices, such as cloves, pepper, and even cinnamon and nutmeg.

(Note however, that the name pimento is also used for a certain kind of large, red, heart-shaped sweet pepper that measures 3 to 4 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide. The flesh of this pimiento—the Spanish word for "pepper"—is sweet, succulent and more aromatic than that of the red bell pepper. These Pimientos are the familiar red stuffing found in quality green olives.)

Flavour

Allspice has a complex aroma, hence its name. It is an aromatic spice with a taste similar to a combination of cinnamon and cloves, but hotter and more peppery. It reportedly scores between 100 and 500 su on the Scoville scale of hotness (most often used for chile peppers).

History

Allspice originated in Jamaica, and was probably first found by Spanish explorers in Jamaica near the beginning of the 16th century. It was slowly introduced into Europe after that. It is still almost exclusively grown in Jamaica, although some other Central American countries produce it in small amounts.

Preparation / Form

Allspice is most commonly sold as whole dried fruits or as a powder. The whole fruits have a longer shelf-life than the powdered product and produce a more aromatic product when freshly ground before use. Fresh leaves are also used where available: they are similar in texture to bay leaves and are thus infused during cooking and then removed before serving. Unlike bay leaves, they lose much flavour when dried and stored. The leaves and wood are often used for smoking meats where allspice is a local crop.

Uses

Allspice is one of the most important ingredients of Caribbean cuisine. It is used in Caribbean jerk seasoning (the wood is used to smoke jerk in Jamaica, although the spice is a good substitute), in mole sauces, and in pickling; it is also an ingredient in commercial sausage preparations and curry powders. Allspice is commonly used in Great Britain and appears in many dishes. Even in many countries where allspice is not very popular in the household, such as Germany, it is used in large amounts by commercial sausage makers.

Culture

Allspice is a small shrubby tree, quite similar to the bay laurel in size and form. It can be grown outdoors in the tropics and subtropics with normal garden soil and watering. Smaller plants can be killed by frost, although larger plants are more tolerant. It adapts well to container culture and can be kept as a houseplant or in a greenhouse. The plant has separate sexes, hence male and female plants must be kept in proximity in order to allow fruits to develop.

Sept 2005 - 2013 - Jewish Recipes