When you're low on a certain ingredient and don't necessarily run to the store, allspice is the one element that to use that can easily take the place of other types of seasonings, such as cinnamon or nutmeg. When the temperature drops, allspice adds depth to food and is a delicious ingredient to add for additional warmth and spiciness. Not only does it pair well with meats, vegetables, or even some casserole dishes, it adds more flair to desserts and fruit. It's peppery notes also lends more dimension to soups, stews or any other of your favorite fare. If you aren't already privy to this amazing ingredient, here are some tips and facts that will make you want to run out and grab a jar of your own.

What Is Allspice?

Allspice peppercorns

Despite its name, allspice isn't a blend of various spices but stands alone as it's own spice, derived from the Jamaican pepper tree or Pimenta dioica, native to the Greater Antilles, Southern Mexico, and Central America, but is most associated with Jamaica, an island located in the West Indies. Allspice is renown for its exceptional aroma and flavor, which for some, evokes feelings of the first days of autumn and is ideal to use for those crisp days when the weather is cold. Allspice is a dried berry that is typically sold whole or ground in various markets around the world.

Allspice is a fruit that is related to the myrtle and is cultivated just before ripening due to their loss of flavor when they are ripe. They are then dried in the sun, and as they brown, they begin to take on the look of large peppercorns with a rustic, dark appearance. When they are ripe, allspice resembles blueberries, with a deep blue-purple hue.

What Does Allspice Taste And Smell Like?

Allspice spread out on a surface

Allspice has a highly fragrant and pervasive flavor, which creates more robust flavorings for many dishes. it doesn't necessarily taste like one thing, but a variety of some of the most popular spices used in cooking, such as nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, juniper, ginger, and pepper. It also lends to its name due to its unique flavor profile. The enticing spice is so powerful, that all it takes is just a few sprinkles or drops peppercorns to infuse any dish with its tempting flavor. Because it complements so many foods, both sweet and savory, it can be used for anything you wish, from a warm cup of Chai tea to an infusion of robust flavor in a Jamaican jerk chicken. if you choose to purchase fresh allspice, be sure to check for its pureness, as some companies will apply other spices to accompany the flavor.

The spices alluring peppery scent and flavor makes it a great go-to substitute for your seasonings as well as spices. It can complement a dish that is both savory and sweet, while not overpowering but lends unique underlying notes that enhances other ingredients. Allspice is best when used fresh, to be ground up into a usable element to incorporate into many recipes.

Uses For Allspice

A cup of coffee with sprinkled spice

If you are lucky enough to obtain this unique spice, by now you already know of its usefulness in cooking, but did you know that it also has many medicinal purposes? Traditionally, allspice is used to help cure a variety of ailments, such as colic, diarrhea, and cholera. Additionally, allspice is antibacterial and also helps to relieve pain. Of course, you do not have to eat allspice raw to obtain its many benefits, but it can be consumed in your favorite beverages and foods, whether used in marinades to infuse into dishes, or sprinkled atop for a boost in flavor.

When it comes to obtaining the perfect flavor, there is a method to the madness, however. if you choose to use whole allspice berries, it's important to use them immediately once they are ground, as they can lose their pungency rather quickly. While whole allspice berries are ideal for infusion of soups, curries, stews as well as flavoring meats when it comes to desserts, you'll definitely want to opt for the ground variety to cultivate an assortment of cakes, pies, or cookies. Other uses for this flavor-enhancing spice includes:

  • Cooking oil infusion- Can be infused into a variety of plant oils for added taste and aroma.
  • Jerk chicken- Blend with other ingredients, such as cloves, sugar, soy sauce, lime juice, and other herbs for infused within your favorite chicken marinade recipe for added spice.
  • Use on vegetables- Simply use a dash for carrots, broccoli, string beans, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, and even cabbage for a dash of flavor if you're looking to try something new.
  • Pasta- Sprinkle a little allspice in your favorite cheesy pasta dish for unexpected spiciness and to enhance the flavor of the cheese.
  • Yogurt- Apply a little to your favorite yogurt for added spice and flavor.
  • Coffee- Sprinkle a bit on top of your favorite coffee to enhance its natural aroma and taste.

Homemade Allspice Blend

Ground spice in a bowl

If you're in the middle of a recipe that requires allspice, and you've run out, you can simply create your own mixture by combining a blend of cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon to get a flavor that is very similar to natural allspice. The following recipe is a very handy tool for use in the case that you run out fo allspice and it is unavailable or if you simply choose not to fuss with having it on hand all the time, especially if it is something that you use quite a lot. Depending on the brand, allspice can be somewhat expensive so if you are also trying to save money, this recipe is a very useful one. Allspice contains equal parts of all the below ingredients, so if you need to make it in bulk, you may apply any measurement that you choose, just as long as it is in equal parts.

What You'll Need

  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 or 1/4 teaspoon of cloves
  • 1/2 or 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg

How To Make It

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the spices, until fully blended.
  2. Keep remainder of spice in a tightly sealed container, away from direct sunlight, for later use.

Natural or homemade allspice will stay for years with adequate storage. While you'll want to keep the spice sealed from humidity, there is no need to freeze or refrigerate it.

Allspice is a quality ingredient that we should all have in our pantry. It is tasty, adds flair to any beverage or dish and contains a unique quality in aroma and taste, like no other. If there is only one spice that you choose to have in your kitchen to meet your culinary needs, allspice is a blend that you won't want to put down. While allspice isn't used in every meal generally, it is a great way to incorporate some of its health benefits into your diet, as well as for use as a seasoning that is alternate to salt and pepper. Although its warm scent flavor often evokes seasonal preferences, allspice can be used all around for added depth to a variety of meals.

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