Allspice is the dried fruit of a dioecious evergreen shrub. It is scientifically named as Pimenta dioica and belongs to the Myrtaceae family. Allspice is called by different names: kurundu, Jamaica pepper, pimenta, myrtle pepper, and newspice. Dried Allspice berries resemble large brown peppercorns. It is native to the Central America, West Indies, South Mexico and the Greater Antilles. Allspice plant thrives well in hot and humid climate. The plant reaches a height of 12 meters. The aroma of this dried fruit resembles the combined scent of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Allspice is enriched with active compounds such as Eugenol and Tannins. Some fragrant herbs resemble Allspice such as Lindera benzoin, Chimonanthus praecox, Tanacetum balsamita, and Calycanthus floridus. Allspice is a key ingredient for Italian or Cajun cuisines. When refrigerator was not discovered, Allspice was used to preserve meat. During renaissance, Allspice was used along with 27 other herbs for the preparation of the popular wine "Benedictine".Allspice is commonly sold in powder form. Most people wrongly assume that the powder is a mixture of many spices.
What is the History behind Allspice?
During his second new world voyage, Christopher Columbus discovered Allspice on the island of Jamaica. In 1621, the word Allspice was coined by Dr. Diego Álvarez Chanca. Later, in the 16th century, Allspice was introduced in the European and Mediterranean cuisines. Jamaica is the largest producer of Allspice.
How is Allspice used?
Allspice is a popular baking spice. It is used in cakes, puddings, pies, cookies, jams, chutneys, marinades and preserves.
It is commercially used in making curry powders, pickles, sausages, compotes, crumbles, and sauces.
Allspice is the main ingredient for jerk spice mix used for seasoning pork, fish, shrimp, beef, shellfish, sausage, tofu and chicken.
In West Indies, an Allspice liqueur called "Pimento Dram" is produced.
Allspice is extensively used in wide array of sweet hot drinks, such as eggnog and hot apple cider.
It is also used in pâtés, bean soups, pulse dishes and terrines.
In America, Allspice is largely used in Cincinnati-style chili recipes.
What are the Nutrients in Allspice ?
Allspice is rich in several essential oils such as eugenol (which gives it a sweet aromatic fragrance), methyleugenol, glycosides, sesquiterpenes, quercetin, and caryophyllene. Eugenol has strong antiseptic properties. It can cure gastrointestinal infections caused by Salmonella, E.coli, and L.monocytogenes.
An excellent source of iron, potassium, manganese, copper, magnesium, and selenium. Manganese helps to produce the powerful antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase responsible for neutralizing free radicals. Copper, potassium, selenium, and magnesium in Allspice helps control blood pressure and heart rate. The presence of iron in Allspice helps in red blood cell production, and aids in cellular metabolism.
Allspice berry contains vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin A, niacin, riboflavin, and vitamin C. Highly packed with vitamin-A, vitamin B-6, niacin, and riboflavin, Allspice alleviates arthritic pains and anxiety related symptoms. Vitamin C develops immunity against infectious agents.
Being a good source of anti-oxidants, Allspice has anti-flatulent, anti-inflammatory, carminative, and rubefacient properties.
The presence of different volatile oils (such as eugenol, methyleugenol, quercetin, caryophyllene, sesquiterpenes, tannins, glycosides, and resin) enhances digestive power by increasing gastro-intestinal secretions. Regular consumption of Allspice cures indigestion related complications.
What are the side-effects of Allspice?
Allspice can cause serious allergic reaction in hypersensitive individuals such as children, preganant women and aged people. Symptoms include gastro-intestinal irritation, depression, dermatitis, and severe seizures.
People suffering from ulcerative colitis, stomach ulcers, or diverticulitis must avoid Allspice.