[ Plant part | Family | Aroma | Constituents | Origin | Discussion |
|pharm||Fructus Amoni, Fructus Pimentae|
|Arabic||Bahar, Bhar hub wa na'im|
|Dutch||Jamaica peper, Piment|
|English||Jamaica pepper, Myrtle pepper, Pimento, Newspice|
|Estonian||Harilik pimendipuu, Vürts|
|French||Piment, Piment jamaique, Poivre aromatique, Toute-épice, Poivre de la Jamaique|
|German||Piment, Neugewürz, Allgewürz, Nelkenpfeffer, Jamaicapfeffer, Englisches Gewürz|
|Hungarian||Jamaikai szegfûbors, Szegfûbors, Pimento, Amomummag|
|Italian||Pimento, Pepe di Giamaica|
|Portuguese||Pimenta da Jamaica|
|Spanish||Pimienta de Jamaica, Pimienta gorda|
|Dried allspice fruits|
The leaves contain less essential oil, but the content is high enough to make destillation profitable. In composition, it is similar to the essential oil from the fruits.
http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/faculty/carr/fpfamilies.htm © Gerald Carr
The genus name Pimenta comes from Spanish pimienta for black pepper; it has a confusing history. In late Latin, the word pigmentum "dye" took a new, additional meaning, "spice, condiment". The Iberic languages, then, formed their word for "pepper" not from Latin piper "pepper", but from said pigmentum: Spanish pimienta, Portuguese pimenta (in Spanish, however, pebre "pepper" has been conserved regionally). Since allspice was initially also termed pimienta by the Spaniards, who alone imported the spice to 16.th century Europe, the name was, together with the spice, introduced into many European languages.
The genus name dioica (Greek di- from dýo
"two", oîkos "house")
indicates that there male and female flowers grow an
different plants; botanists call such plants dioicious.
In Caribbean cuisine, allspice with its pleasing clove-like aroma is the most important spice and used extensively. Meat is often stuffed with allspice leaves and barbecued over a fire of allspice wood, similar to the use of myrtle around the Mediterranean Sea.
Jamaica is known for its fiery jerk pastes, which are commonly used to marinate pork or chicken before barbecuing. Jerk is made mostly of sonion and local chile cultivars of unmatched heat and pungency. The paste derives is characteristic taste from allspice berries, furthermore allspice or cinnamon leaves, garlic, fresh thyme, black pepper and vinegar or lime juice; the recipe is variable and may include further seasonings like orange juice, coriander leaves, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. Authenticity is increased by adding dry allspice branches to the firewood.
Allspice is also grown in México, albeit in lesser quality. It is used there for the famous mole sauces (see paprika).
In Europe, England consumes most of it. The British like it for stews and sauces and for flavouring pickled vegetables (together with white mustard seeds). Allspice is also quite popular in the US, where cooks use if for quite similar purposes.
On the European continent, allspice is less appreciated; it is, however, contained in commercial spice mixtures for sausages and much loved by Scandinavians for fine meat pastries, as are used in the Danish speciality smørrebrød (white bread topped with a selection of sausages, pastries, fish, cheese and vegetables). Other spices popular in Scandinavia are dill and cardamom seeds.
Allspice berries sometimes show up in the somewhat antiquated French spice mixture quatre épices (see nutmeg).
It is interesting to note that allspice has not been accepted by Asian cooks, although its occurrence in curry powder is sometimes claimed (see curry leaves). The pungent-aromatic quality of allspice is, however, much in line with Arabic cooking style; it is rather surprising that allspice is not called for in Arabic mutton dishes. I guess this is not a matter of taste but of availability, since allspice is nowhere grown in Asia. The only cuisine of the Old World using allspice lies in East Africa: The Ethiopian spice mixture berebere (see long pepper) indeed contains allspice, which is grown on the island Réunion not far away.