Allspice does not only have a great flavour but it can also lay claim to some great health benefits and the spice has an interesting history too. Have you ever had Jerk pork, Jerk chicken or anything jerk for that matter and wondered where that succulent flavour comes from?
Well, Allspice is made from the dried unripe fruit of the pimenta dioica plant and it is the main ingredient in the famous Jamaican jerk sauce!
Jamaican pepper, myrtle pepper, pimenta, pimento or newspice are some of the names used to refer to allspice. This great spice was encountered by Christopher Columbus (an explorer and navigator) on the beautiful island Jamaica on his second voyage to the New World.
The finest Allspice is still grown in Jamaica because of the soil and climate which is perpect to cultivate this spice. It is so amazing how the name allspice came about, it is actually because of the great aroma which smells like a combination of three different spices, being nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. For more information about these three spices check out the list of spices page.
Why it was called pimenta?
When Christopher Columbus bought it back to Spain, the Spanish mistakenly thought it was black pepper, which they called pimenta. They also called it Jamaican pepper because of where it was discovered. Back in the days even before it was encountered by the explorer, it was used by the Mayans as an embalming agent (as funny as that sounds), and by the Arawaks to preserve and cure meats.
In some instance it was even used as a deodorant, and sprinkled in shoes to keep down odour.
The Jamaican pepper is also said to have some health benefits similar to clove which includes:
- contains good amount of vitamin C which is a powerful natural antioxidant
- contains some essential oils, one of which is eugenol, which has anesthetic and antiseptic properties
- relieves indigestion
- relieves flatulence
- the essential oils act as a tonic which helps improve the immune system
Some foods you can use allspice in includes pork, fish, chicken, stews,cakes, spiced tea, pies and curries. And now are you ready for a treat? A recipe for our most delectable and great tasting Jamaican Jerk Sauce.
JAMAICAN JERK SAUCE
INGREDIENTS:Makes 1 cup
- 1/2 cup ground pimenta berries
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp thyme leaves
- 4 large scotch bonnet pepper, diced
- 3 stalks diced escallions
- 8 cloves garlic
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 nutmeg
- salt to taste
- add a little soy sauce as moisture
Step 1: Place all ingredients in blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
Step 2: Can be refrigerated as a means of preserving is you don't use everything.