Allspice, also called Jamaica pepper, Myrtle pepper, Jamaican pimento, or Newspice, is a spice that is the dried unripe fruit (“berries”) of Pimenta dioica, a mid-canopy tree native to the Greater Antilles, southern Mexico, and Central America, now cultivated in many warm parts of the world.
The fruit are picked when green and unripe and, traditionally, dried in the sun. When dry, the fruit are brown and resemble large brown peppercorns. The whole fruit have a longer shelf life than the powdered product and produce a more aromatic product when freshly ground before use.
Fresh leaves are used where available. They are similar in texture to bay leaves and are thus infused during cooking and then removed before serving. Unlike bay leaves, they lose much flavour when dried and stored, so do not figure in commerce. The leaves and wood are often used for smoking meats where allspice is a local crop.
Allspice is one of the most important ingredients of Caribbean cuisine. It is used in Jamaican Jerk Seasoning (the wood is used to smoke jerk in Jamaica, although the spice is a good substitute), in moles, and in pickling; it is also an ingredient in commercial sausage preparations and curry powders.
Allspice is also indispensable in Middle Eastern cuisine, particularly in the Levant, where it is used to flavour a variety of stews and meat dishes. In Palestinian cuisine, for example, many main dishes call for allspice as the sole spice added for flavouring. In America, it is used mostly in desserts, but it is also responsible for giving Cincinnati-style chilli its distinctive aroma and flavour. Allspice is commonly used in Great Britain, and appears in many dishes, including cakes. Even in many countries where allspice is not very popular in the household, as in Germany, it is used in large amounts by commercial sausage makers. It is a main flavour used in barbecue sauces. In the West Indies, an allspice liqueur called “pimento dram” is produced, and a sweet liqueur called mirto is made in Sardinia.
Ground Allspice has a warm, fragrant aroma which tastes like a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Allspice is particularly well matched to gamon and pork, and in apple tarts and poached fruit desserts.
Allspice Usage Ideas
Allspice adds a touch of sweetness to desserts and warmth to meats and winter veggies.
- Mix with orange juice, brown sugar and oil, then brush onto pork steaks before grilling.
- Sprinkle into beef or lamb casseroles for an extra warming flavour.
- Stir into fruit salad or stewed fruit for a fuller flavour.
- Use in many Caribbean dishes for an authentic taste.
If you don’t have any allspice handy then try one of these alternatives. Just remember that substitutions can result in slightly different flavours in the end result.
- Ground Cinnamon – Cinnamon is just as fragrant and flavourful as allspice. You can use it in savoury and sweet dishes, however, to substitute the flavour of allspice completely, combine with cloves and/or nutmeg. Try for 1 teaspoon of allspice = ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground cloves, and a pinch of ground nutmeg.
- Ground Cloves – Ground cloves are one of the best allspice substitutes due to their sharpness. Substitute with ground cloves in stews, casseroles, curries or beverages such as mulled wine.
- Ground Nutmeg – Nutmeg is a versatile spice which you can also use for multiple purposes. You might also know it as mace. For sweet recipes, combine with cinnamon. For savoury recipes, combine with ground cloves for best results.
- Star Anise – Star anise contains a very strong anise flavour. You can consider it an allspice substitute for marinades, stews, curries and beverages.
- 5 Spice Powder – Five-spice powder originates from China. Consider it as an allspice substitute only in curry dishes, woks and other savoury meals.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice – Pumpkin pie spice contains allspice, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon. Hence, it is a good substitute, however, you should use only a sprinkle!
Spices, allspice, ground
- Serving Size100
- Amount per serving
- Energy263 kJ
- % Daily Value*
- Total Fat8.69 g11.14%
- Saturated Fat2.550 g12.75%
- Trans Fat0.00 g
- Polyunsaturated Fat2.360 g
- Monounsaturated Fat0.660 g
- Cholesterol0 mg0%
- Sodium77 mg3.35%
- Total Carbohydrate72.12 g26.23%
- Dietary Fibre21.6 g77.14%
- Protein6.09 g12.18%
- Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol)0 mcg0%
- Calcium661 mg50.85%
- Iron7.06 mg39.22%
- Potassium1044 mg22.21%
- Vitamin A540 mcg60%
- Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)39.2 mg43.56%
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)0.101 mg8.42%
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0.063 mg4.85%
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin)2.860 mg17.88%
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)0.210 mg16.15%
- Folate36 mcg9%
- Vitamin B12 (Cobalamine)0.00 mcg0%
- Phosphorus113 mg16.14%
- Magnesium135 mg33.75%
- Zinc1 mg9.09%
- Water8.46 g
- Caffeine0 mg