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Out of the Frying Pan

Herb & Spice Encyclopedia Index


Also called: English spice, Jamaican spice or Jamaican pepper

As its name suggests, allspice's flavor is reminiscent of a combination of spices, including cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pepper.

The allspice tree, a member of the mytrle family, is indigenous to the West Indies and Central and South America. Jamaica produces most of the world's allspice supply, and not surprisingly, allspice figures strongly into Jamaican cuisine. The complex, exotic flavor of Jamaican jerk can be attributed primarily to allspice.

The liquors Benedictine and Chartreuse also include allspice, as do many holiday sweets, and Scandinavian herring dishes.

Allspice is readily available both ground and whole. Like many ground spices, flavor can deteriorate quickly, so it's best to buy whole berries in small amounts and grind them as needed. The berries are relatively soft and easily ground with a mortar and pestle. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, try crushing them with a rolling pin or even the smooth bottom of a heavy glass. For a finer powder, use a spice grinder, coffee grinder, or a blender. Ground allspice is best used right away, or kept tightly sealed for a few months



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