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Allspice is a spice that is derived from a berry.  It is also called pimenta, Jamaica pimenta, or myrtle pepper, is the dried unripe fruit (berries, used as a spice) of Pimenta dioica, a midcanopy tree native to the Greater Antilles, southern Mexico, and Central America, now cultivated in many warm parts of the world.  The flavor of allspice brings to mind cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and pepper.

Most common ways Allspice is used in culinary dishes:

Allspice can be used in ground form or whole. Once ground up, though, allspice quickly can lose its pungency.  Whole allspice berries are sometimes used in stews or soups, and for pickling and brining. You will certainly have better success using the ground version in desserts, such as pumpkin cake or pie, spice cakes, and gingerbread.

Allspice With Meat Entrees

Season a beef or lamb roast with allspice berries. Tuck the berries into your meat just as you would garlic cloves. The taste is a bit sweeter. Or, you can use half garlic and half allspice. If you want to tame the berries a bit, cook them before you use them as seasoning. You can bake them for 10 minutes or heat them in a cast-iron skillet on the stovetop.

Allspice’s Mediterranean taste shines in Cincinnati-style chili, which is a meat sauce that goes well on spaghetti or as a topping for coney dogs.

Allspice’s Jamaican Fame

Allspice, which also is known as Jamaican pepper and new spice, is also one of the key ingredients in Jamaican jerk chicken. Ground allspice is combined with sugar, salt, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and other herbs and spices, along with soy sauce, lime juice, and oil to form a marinade. Whole chicken legs are coated in the marinade and refrigerated overnight. The chicken can then be grilled or cooked in a cast-iron skillet.

Allspice and Vegetables

Toss a scant 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon over string beans, carrots, cabbage, or mushrooms for a more exotic flavor. After all, how many times can you serve them flavored only with butter, salt, and pepper? Or try a mix of white and black pepper with a few allspice berries ground into the mix.

Substitutions for Allspice

If a recipe calls for allspice and you don’t have any, you could mix up a substitute by combining equal parts ground cloves, ground cinnamon, and ground nutmeg. Conversely, if you don’t have nutmeg, cloves, or cinnamon on hand, use allspice instead.

Storage Hints

Keep your allspice fresh and ready to use by storing it in an airtight jar or another container away from direct sunlight. It will last for years whether whole or ground. There’s no need to freeze or refrigerate it.