Whole Allspice Berries
The fruit are picked when green and unripe and, traditionally, dried in the sun. When dry, the fruit are brown and resemble large brown peppercorns. The whole fruit have a longer shelf life than the powdered product and produce a more aromatic product when freshly ground before use.
Fresh leaves are 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, so do not figure in commerce. The leaves and wood are often used for smoking meats where allspice is a local crop.
Allspice is one of the most important ingredients of Caribbean cuisine. It is used in Jamaican Jerk Seasoning (the wood is used to smoke jerk in Jamaica, although the spice is a good substitute), in moles, and in pickling; it is also an ingredient in commercial sausage preparations and curry powders.
Allspice is also indispensable in Middle Eastern cuisine, particularly in the Levant, where it is used to flavour a variety of stews and meat dishes. In Palestinian cuisine, for example, many main dishes call for allspice as the sole spice added for flavouring. In America, it is used mostly in desserts, but it is also responsible for giving Cincinnati-style chilli its distinctive aroma and flavour. Allspice is commonly used in Great Britain, and appears in many dishes, including cakes. Even in many countries where allspice is not very popular in the household, as in Germany, it is used in large amounts by commercial sausage makers. It is a main flavour used in barbecue sauces. In the West Indies, an allspice liqueur called “pimento dram” is produced, and a sweet liqueur called mirto is made in Sardinia.
Ground Allspice has a warm, fragrant aroma which tastes like a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Allspice is particularly well matched to gamon and pork, and in apple tarts and poached fruit desserts.
Allspice adds a touch of sweetness to desserts and warmth to meats and winter veggies.
- Mix with orange juice, brown sugar and oil, then brush onto pork steaks before grilling.
- Sprinkle into beef or lamb casseroles for an extra warming flavour.
- Stir into fruit salad or stewed fruit for a fuller flavour.
- Use in many Caribbean dishes for an authentic taste.