Organic Allspice Berries

Organic Allspice Berries
Organic Allspice Berries
Organic Allspice Berries Organic Allspice Berries
SKU
300606 001
$13.12
Net Weight:
1.6 oz
Select Size:

Organic Allspice, Pimenta dioica (formerly Pimenta officinalis) , comes from the family Myrtaceae  (myrtle family) and is closely related to clove, eucalyptus, guava and the bay rum tree. Allspice was discovered on the island of Jamaica by Columbus during his second voyage to the New World. Columbus called Allspice pimiento, which is what the Spanish called black peppercorns, because the dried Allspice berries looked similar to large smooth brownish black peppercorns.

Allspice is the only spice that is grown exclusively in the Western Hemisphere and is native to the Caribbean (Jamaica), Mexico, Central America (Belize, Guatemala, Honduras) and South America (Brazil, Leeward Isle).

Allspice is called bahar halu (Arabic), duo xiang guo (Mandarin), toute-epice, poivre de Jamaique (French), piment neugewurz, nelkenpfeffer (German), orusupaisu (Japanese), pimento de Jamaica (Portuguese) and pimiento de Jamaica (Spanish). It's also known as Jamaica pepper, clove pepper or myrtle pepper.

 

What's the Difference Between Jamaican, Guatemalan and Mexican Allspice?

Jamaican Allspice is considered by many to be the best quality allspice, with the highest volatile oil content in the world. Mexican Allspice berries have the largest size and darkest color (compared to other allspice growing countries). Typically, Allspice that is harvested in Mexico and other Central American countries (Guatemala and Honduras) has a greater variance in the size of the berries and volatile oil content. This is due to these berries being harvested from wild growing trees more often, while Jamaican Allspice cultivation is much more controlled and tightly regulated by the Jamaican government (and therefore significantly more expensive).

In Mexico and Guatemala, the Allspice tree and fruit are called "pimienta gorda" which means "fat pepper".

Allspice berries contain between 1.5% and 5% essential oil with Jamaican at 5%, Guatemalan 3% and Mexican at 1.4% to 3%. To most cooks the difference in flavor is negligible.  

Mexican Allspice is typically harvested in July and August, Jamaican Allspice is harvested in August and September and Guatemalan Allspice in June, July and August.

Our Organic Allspice Berries are cultivated in Guatemala.


 

History of Allspice

The genus name Pimenta (add italics) comes from Spanish "pimienta" for black pepper. Its name has quite a bit of confusion surrounding it. In Late Latin, the word "pigmentum" meant "dye", but over time it took an additional meaning which was "spice" or "condiment". The Portuguese and Spanish languages formed their word for "pepper" not from the Latin "piper" (which translates to "pepper"), but from the Late Latin "pigmentum" -- Portuguese "pimenta" and Spanish "pimienta". The Spanish controlled the import of Allspice into Europe during the 1500's and because Columbus originally referred to Allspice as pimiento, this was often how the spice was introduced into other European languages - ie French (pimenta) and Ukrainian (piment).

To add even more confusion to the naming convention, contemporary Spanish uses the masculine form, pimiento, for paprika and the feminine form, pimienta, for pepper.

The first known use of Allspice was by the ancient Mayans (2600 BC - 1500AD) and Aztecs (1250 - 1521AD), who both used Allspice berries to flavor their favorite chocolate drinks.

Allspice was imported to Europe in 1601 as a substitute for cardamom. Many food historians believe that it was the British in the early 17th century who gave this berry the name Allspice because of the dried berry's aroma which smells like a combination of spices, most notably cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg.

After Columbus introduced Allspice to Europe, there were numerous attempts to grow the tree in the spice producing regions of the east, but these attempts proved futile. Even though allspice possessed a strong aroma and flavor similar to other spices that were highly coveted throughout Europe, allspice never became as popular as cinnamon and pepper. The British started regularly importing Allspice in 1737, and while other new world imports like sugar and coffee were dominating the rest of Europe during this time, allspice did gain a loyal following in England, and it even became commonly called English Spice.

In 1812, Napoleon invaded Russia in what was known at the time as the Patriotic War, and legend has it that the Russian soldiers put allspice in their boots to keep their feet warm.

The first mention of allspice in an American cookbook was in "American Cookery" published in 1796. In this cookbook was a recipe for "pompkin pudding" (not a typo, and today this is called pumpkin pie) that called for both allspice and ginger.

 

Allspice Cultivation

The allspice tree, a tropical evergreen, will often reach a height of between 25-60 feet. The trees don't begin to bear fruit for about 5-6 years, and will reach full fruit bearing maturity at 20 years. There have been some mentions of allspice trees producing berries for up to 100 years. Allspice trees are either male or female, although some male trees produce a small number of berries. Fully mature female trees produce 10-20 pounds of berries each year.

The allspice tree has smooth whitish - grey bark that peels in thin sheets like birch trees. The leaves are large, about 8" long and 2" wide, oblong shaped with a leathery appearance, a glossy green color and they're quite aromatic. Small white flowers begin appearing in mid-summer and are about 1/4" across and borne in many flowered pyramidal cymes originating from the leaf axils. The small white flowers quickly develop into clusters of green pea-sized berries with 1 or 2 berries each.

Allspice berries lose their aroma once they've completely ripened, so they're picked once they've reached their full size but are still green. The harvested berries are ‘sweated' for a few days, and then they're spread out on a concrete platform called a ‘barbeque' where they finish the drying process. Once completely dried, they are a dark reddish brown in color.
Organic allspice from Guatemala is sourced from small farmer co-ops of mostly indigenous Q'eqchi' people (one of the Maya peoples in Guatemala and Belize). In Guatemala's Peten forest (located in the northernmost region of Guatemala), allspice is gathered each year during June, July and August by pollarding (a pruning system in which the upper branches of a tree are removed) seed-bearing trees of their branches and drying the harvested seeds. Although the practice sounds destructive, allspice trees soon sprout new branches and the tree can be harvested again after six years of re-growth.

Mexico is the world's largest exporter of allspice (32% of total production), followed by Jamaica (25%) and Guatemala (17%).

 

Cooking with Allspice

Allspice is more popular in the West, especially in American, British, Caribbean, German, North African and Scandinavian cuisines. It is not typically used in Asian cooking.

The Caribs (American Indian people who inhabited the Lesser Antilles and parts of the neighboring South American coast at the time of the Spanish conquest) used Allspice for preserving meat and fish. The Spanish assimilated this practice and used this same meat preserving technique on voyages to and from Europe.

The British add allspice to stews, sauces and pickled vegetables. In the Caribbean, it's added to barbecues, curries, stews and sweet potatoes. Whole allspice berries are added to "pimento dram", a popular Jamaican drink, and allspice is a key ingredient in Jamaican Jerk seasoning. In Germany, allspice is used in biscuits, cakes, pies, pot roasts, relishes and stuffings. In North African cuisines, Allspice is added to "Mrouzia" a lamb tagine and is also a signature spice in the seasoning blends Berbere and Moroccan Vegetable Rub.

Use allspice to flavor vegetables like carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, turnips and winter squash, soups (especially chicken, tomato and vegetable), apple pie, fruit compote, pumpkin pie, chili sauces, plum pudding, rice pudding, cookies, gingerbread, spice cakes, sweet rolls, pickles, relishes, gravies, hamburgers, meatballs, lamb stew, beef roast, stew and meat marinades.

Allspice also works well in combination with chili powder, cloves, coriander, garlic, ginger, mustard, pepper, rosemary and thyme.

In the countries of origin (especially in Mexico), fresh Allspice tree leaves are often used for cooking or smoking meat. They have a different flavor, woodier aroma with less intense notes than the berry. Allspice leaves have a similar texture to bay leaves and are often infused during cooking and then removed before serving. Unlike bay leaves, they lose much flavor when dried so there is not much of a commercial market for them.

 

What Does Organic Allspice Taste Like?

Allspice is warm and sweetly pungent with floral undertones.

Mexican Allspice has a mellower flavor and is not quite as sweet as Jamaican or Guatemalan grown Allspice.

 

Allspice Substitution

Allspice can be used as a substitute, measure for measure, for cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg. Conversely, to make a substitution for allspice, combine one part nutmeg with two parts each of cinnamon and cloves.

 

Volatile Oils of Spices
Holiday Spice Guide
Flavor Characteristics of Spices
Craft Brewers Favorite Beer Spices

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size1 tsp

Amount Per Serving

Calories5

% Daily Value*

Total Fat0g0%

Saturated Fat0g0%

Trans Fat0g

Polyunsaturated Fat0g

Monounsaturated Fat0g

Cholesterol0mg0%

Sodium1.4mg0%

Total Carbohydrate1.3g0%

Dietary Fiber0.4g2%

Total Sugars0.0g

Added Sugars0g0%

Sugar Alcohol0.0g

Protein0.1g0%

Vitamin D0mcg0%

Calcium12mg1%

Iron0mg1%

Potassium20mg0%

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice. These values were calculated and therefore are approximate. For more accuracy, testing is advised.

5 out of 5
1 total ratings.

LIL H. (Verified buyer) 12/22/2019
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