I am itching to tell you a little about Jamaican Allspice... the secret (if you never knew) to the unique taste of Jamaican Jerk!
Most of us locals know it as pimento. In fact, to be honest, it was only a few years ago I realized that the dried berry is called Allspice.
It is called Allspice because its flavor suggests a blend of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Pimento trees are abundant in Jamaica but I do believe that my little childhood community, Beeston Spring has the most per square than anywhere else in Jamaica, and perhaps the world - seriously :-) !
In addition to agriculture, allspice cultivation was the main stay of our little district for years. It still plays a vital economic role today in the community, particularly for the older folks.
By the way, we still produce the largest amount of Allspice in the world but it is said that Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and the Leeward Islands forms alternate sources. Not only do we grow much more, ours have been considered superior because it has a higher oil content and better appearance and flavor than any other.
Jamaican Allspice has a clove-like aroma, while the Honduran and Guatemalan varieties have a characteristic bay rum flavor. Its heavy sweetness lends allspice a great deal of versatility.
Whole, it is used in poached fish stock, vegetable and fruit pickles, and for wild game.
And by the way, if you make your own barbeque sauce, it is a great secret ingredient!
Take a look at this wiki page if you want to learn a little more about the history, other uses, and the cultivation, of allspice.
Make sure you subscribe to my free monthly e-zine My Island Jamaica Digest (MIJD) and stay with the latest from Jamaica!