Saturday, July 23, 2011

Allspice Knowledge

Did you know?


Allspice gets its name due to it actually smelling like a combination of spices…cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg.  It’s the only spice grown exclusively in the Western Hemisphere.  It spice comes from the berries of an evergreen tree that used to grow wild in South and Central America.  But, most of the wild trees were cut down with very few remaining today.  There are now plantations in Mexico and parts of Central America where the trees are grown but the finest allspice berries come from Jamaica where the climate and soil is perfect for their growth. 

Allspice has had many uses over the years.  The Mayans used it as an embalming agent whereas the South American Indians used it to flavor chocolate.  The Jamaican Arawaks used allspice to cure and preserve meat. 

There have been attempts to transplant the trees to other regions but the trees apparently enjoy staying where they are and show their dislike for being moved by producing very little fruit. 

The uses of Allspice are never ending.  In Jamaica it is a major seasoning for jerked meats.  It’s especially popular in European cooking and an important ingredient in marinades, pickling and mulling.  Many smoked and canned meats include allspice.  It’s used in cakes, fruit pies, puddings and even ice cream.  Some Indian curries use it while many Middle East meat and rice dishes will have Allspice as an ingredient.  And if you are ever out of cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg, just substitute measuring 1 for 1.  If you are out of allspice you can create a flavor that is pretty close by substituting 1 part nutmeg with 2 parts each cinnamon and cloves.

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