Christopher Columbus discovered allspice in the Caribbean when he mistook the spicy berries for peppercorns.
Also known as pimiento or Jamaican pepper, allspice is the unripened fruit of a small evergreen tree called Pimenta Dioica. The berries are picked from the tree and sun-dried into pea-size balls with a dark, brownish-red color.

Contrary to popular belief, allspice is not a blend of "all spices." It does however, have a naturally inherent sweet and spicy flavor reminiscent of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and hot pepper. The pungent spice is one of the most important ingredients of Caribbean cuisine where it's used in Jamaican jerk seasoning and soups, stews and curries. Allspice is also a common ingredient in cakes, cookies and pies as well as ketchup, pickles and sausage.

Buying Tips

Allspice can be purchased as whole berries or a ground powder. The whole berries have a longer shelf-life than the powdered product and they also produce more flavorful results when they're freshly ground right before using. Some markets may also carry allspice leaves which must be used while they're fresh. Like bay leaves, they're used to infuse flavor and are removed before serving.

Storage Tips

Store in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place. Ground allspice stays fresh for up to six months. Whole berries last up to a year.

Usage Tips

Allspice is worthy addition to your spice rack as it complements a wide variety of sweet to savory recipes. Try adding whole berries to chicken and pork marinades or simmering stews and pot roasts. Mix ground allspice with ground beef for more flavorful hamburgers and meatloaf, or simply add a pinch to your barbecue and tomato sauces. Allspice can also give a distinctive touch to desserts like applesauce, angel food cake and oatmeal cookies.

Substitution Tips

• One teaspoon of ground allspice is equivalent to approximately five whole berries.
• Use an equal amount of allspice as a substitute for cloves.
• Substitute one teaspoon of allspice with 1/2 tsp cinnamon plus 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  OR 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground cloves plus 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg.

Try one of our favorite allspice recipes:
Harvest Moon Pumpkin Pie
Uncle Oscars Swedish Meatballs
Caribbean Chicken-Vegetable Soup

Suggested Pairings

apples, barbecue, beef, black beans, carrots, chicken, chutneys, eggnog, fish, gingerbread, lamb, pumpkin, sausage, spice cake, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turkey, veal, venison