Also called 'Jamaica pepper,' allspice is the dried unripe berry of the pimento plant, an evergreen native to Central America, Mexico, South America, and the West Indies. In the times before refrigeration, allspice was used by buccaneers to cure their meat. The popular liqueur Benedictine, created during the Renaissance in the Abbey of Fecamp, contains 27 plants of spices, one of which is said to be allspice. Allspice is also one of the terms used to describe the character of wine.
Description. Pimenta officinalis and Pimenta dioica are the two most often found varieties of the plant from which allspice comes, and both are in the family Myrtaceae. The plant grows up to 40 feet (12 meters) in height. Small white flowers bloom in June through August. The taste of allspice led to its name ? it is said to taste like a combination of cloves, juniper, cinnamon, and pepper, or some other array of pungent spices. It is rated as a four out of ten on a scale of spice heat.
Food and other Uses. Allspice may be most often thought of as a baking spice, used in cookies, pies, pudding, and ? perhaps most famously ? as part of the spicy mix used to flavor pumpkin pie. Allspice is also used in sweet, hot drinks, such as hot apple cider and eggnog. It also finds a place in wassail and in the drink called Tom & Jerry, where it is part of a spice combination that also includes mace, cloves, and nutmeg.
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Allspice has a place in savory dishes as well. Allspice is used for pickling, including pickled beets, cucumbers, eggs, and corned beef. Jamaican jerk also features allspice as one of its key ingredients. The spice is used in North African and Arabic stews, as well.
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Store allspice in an airtight container in a cool, dark place, and never near a hot stove or vent. As with most spices, ground allspice will begin to lose flavor after six months. The whole berries should be used within one year.
Allspice cooking tips and equivalents
* Allspice can be substituted for cloves in many recipes.
* For a flavorful peppercorn mixture for your peppermill, add whole allspice berries in equal proportions to green, black, and white peppercorns.
* To further intensify the flavor and aroma of whole allspice berries, place them on a cookie sheet and roast in a 350-degree F. oven until they begin to smell, about 10 minutes. Achieve the same effect by using a heavy dry frypan on the stovetop, shaking often over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Watch carefully so they do not burn and become bitter. Cool before using.
* When using allspice in yeast breads, limit the amount to 1/4 teaspoon per cup of flour. The allspice can inhibit the activity of the yeast in large amounts.
* 6 whole allspice berries = 1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground allspice
* 1 tsp ground allspice = 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon plus 1/8 tsp ground cloves
OUR FAVORITE ALLSPICE RECIPE BELOW!
This is a hearty meal in one pot with corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, and carrots in a savory broth. Feeds a dozen hungry guests or plan on leftovers. Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 3 hours
* 1-3/4 pounds onions, divided use
* 2-1/2 pounds carrots, divided use
* 6 pounds corned beef brisket or round, spiced or unspiced
* 1 cup malt vinegar
* 6 ounces Irish stout beer
* 1 tablespoon organic yellow mustard seed (Buy Here!)
* 1 tablespoon organic coriander seed (Buy Here!)
* 1/2 tablespoon organic black peppercorns (Buy Here!)
* 1/2 tablespoon dill seed (Buy Here!)
* 1/2 tablespoon whole organic allspice (Buy Here!)
* 2 organic bay leaves (Buy Here!)
* 3 pounds cabbage, rinsed
* 2-1/2 pounds small red potatoes, scrubbed
* 1/2 cup coarse grain mustard, optional
* 1/2 cup Dijon mustard, optional
You'll need a heavy-duty pot large enough to hold 4 gallons for this large quantity recipe.
Divide onions and carrots and chop enough to fill 1 cup of each, reserving the rest. Place the corned beef in the stockpot. Add the chopped onions, carrots, malt vinegar, stout beer, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, dill seeds, whole allspice, and bay leaves. Add enough water to cover the corned beef, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer about 3 hours until meat is fork-tender.
While the corned beef is cooking, cut the reserved onions into eight wedges and the carrots into 2-inch chunks. (Larger carrots should be halved first.) Slice each head of cabbage into 8 wedges.
Add onions, carrots and red potatoes to the cooked corned beef, with the cabbage on top. Cover and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes, until potatoes and cabbage are fork-tender.
To serve, cut corned beef against the grain into thin slices and accompany with the cooked vegetables. Dijon mustard and/or coarse-grained mustard complement the corned beef as optional condiments.
Yield: 12 hearty servings
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