Allspice Overview

Here is another interesting video from the American Chemical Society. It is an interesting look at the seasoning known as Allspice. Most people think allspice is a combination of spices mixed together. But it is not. It is a single spice from the fruit of a tree originally found in the Caribbean. Most people think that it combines the flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

Its leaves have been used to soothe the gums of infants during teething. In this short video find out how Napoleon used it for his troops.

Not included in the video are a lot of its cooking uses. Known as Jamaica pepper, pimenta, pimento, English pepper, and newspice, the dried fruit looks like a peppercorn. It is used in many Caribbean dishes, and many Indian curries. One of its biggest commercial uses is in ketchup, but it is also used in barbecue sauce, curry and desserts.

Other uses are in Jamaican jerk spice, various meat marinades and rubs, and a local Jamaican drink known as Jamaican dram. It can be used in gingerbread, spice cookies, spiced cider, pumpkin pie, carrot cake, and spiced butternut squash soup.

The dried fruit has a longer shelf life whole than when it is ground. If kept out of light the dried berries will last almost indefinitely. As a powder, much of the flavor is gone in a few months.

It also has a more aromatic flavor when it is freshly ground. It's best to get the whole dried berries rather than the powder and grind them just before using. Or for soups you can crack the whole berry, add them to the liquid during cooking, and remove before serving.

It has a number of potential health benefits. The potassium to sodium ratio is between 13:1 and 15:1, so it will help the ratio of most dishes. Some of the folklore benefits have not been scientifically confirmed, but its antibacterial power has been. It has quite a few phytonutrients that should be beneficial, but most of them have not been characterized.