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Jamaican Allspice...What’s in This Flavour-filled Jamaican Favourite
By Kesha Stewart | Associate Writer
In the competition to see which spice is hands down the most respected and revered in Jamaica, a few key terms must be used to assist the jury of foodies to determine what sets one spice apart from another.
Here are some key determinants.
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A spice should be distinctive, authentic, genuine, unique and versatile. In short, your meal should feel incomplete without it.
In Jamaica we have a spice for all seasons. We use it in authentic Jamaican jerk, seasonings, marinades and a range of condiments.
It is in our soups, curries, stews, gravies, local homemade wines, drinks, rice and peas as well as our medicine cabinets.
This spice definitely stands tall in the identified categories and adds more than a hint of flavour in our cooking.
But what exactly could fit this bill? Yes, it’s the Jamaican Allspice.
It takes pride of place in every kitchen - and in many medicine cabinets too!
So what exactly is in this spice of spices? Well if you are thinking as a chef, it is everything!
And note that it is a single product (a fruit /seeds), grown on its own by nature on the pimento tree!
These dried mature unripe berries of the pimento tree, Pimenta dioica, is meters ahead of its relatives cloves and bay trees.
Sure these ‘culinary cousins’ can claim to be its relatives but allspice’s flavour and versatility sets it apart from them. This indigenous Caribbean spice has played a feature role in our condiment industry since the time of the Tainos.
Nowadays renowned chefs alongside housewives, men who cook and even those of us who “try-a-thing” (doing something you’re not really good at) have come to depend on allspice.
Its pungent and distinctive flavour and aroma can make even a novice to create an impression in the kitchen.
The tree itself is a mid-canopy evergreen which is now grown in several warm areas on the planet not just in Jamaica and the Caribbean region.
It was the Spanish that identified this plant and berries as pimento, but it was the English who decided to call it allspice alluding to its multi-flavour profile. The berries bear a similarity in appearance to peppercorn. Read more on the pimento tree here.
Our allspice is reputed to have the flavours of nutmeg, juniper, cinnamon, cloves and pepper all rolled into one. Remarkable!
Note however, that allspice’s matrix of flavours are not born from a combination of any of the named specific spices, neither is there any salt or sugar added - it is pure pimento berries! Genuine Jamaican allspice is never mixed! It stands alone.
Absolutely! Allspice knows its way around the kitchen and it still won’t get lost in your medicine cabinet either.
So what’s in it?
From a medicinal point of view allspice is extremely useful... Allspice has Quercitin, Ericifolin, Eugenol and Gallic acid which helps to...
And, allspice has many other elements which allows its diversity to be beneficial to the business of making perfumes and essential oils; it is also a natural plant pesticide!
As you become acquainted with this diverse plant you will realize that using allspice will prove to be a flavour filled, healthful and even tantalizing surprise.
Sometimes we use pimento berries whole but the best flavour is obtained when it is fully dried and grounded.
But the whole berries, fully dried and kept it in a tightly closed container at a cool dry place, allspice should keep for a while and retain its distinctive flavour; simply ground as you are preparing your spices for cooking.
New! Now you can get authentic Jamaican pimento (allspice) as well as other traditional Jamaican herbs conveniently via my Etsy store.
Here is the link: https://www.etsy.com/MyIslandJamaica/listing/763878188/100-jamaican-allspice-berries-jamaican
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