AskDefine | Define allspice

Dictionary Definition

allspice

Noun

1 aromatic West Indian tree that produces allspice berries [syn: allspice tree, pimento tree, Pimenta dioica]
2 deciduous shrubs having aromatic bark; eastern China; southwestern and eastern United States
3 ground dried berrylike fruit of a West Indian allspice tree; suggesting combined flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg and cloves

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Pronunciation

Noun

  1. A spice; the dried unripe fruit of Pimenta dioica, thought to combine the flavours of several spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
  2. An evergreen tree of tropical America with aromatic berries.

Synonyms

(spice):

Translations

spice
tree

Derived terms

Extensive Definition

Allspice, also called Jamaica pepper,"Kurundu" Myrtle pepper, pimento , or newspice, is a spice which is the dried unripe fruit of the Pimenta dioica plant. The name "allspice" was coined by the English, who thought it combined the flavour of several aromatic spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

Preparation/Form

Allspice is not, as is mistakenly believed by some people who have only come across it in ground form, a mixture of spices. Rather, it is the dried fruit of the Pimenta dioica plant. The fruit is picked when it is green and unripe and traditionally dried in the sun. When dry the fruits are brown and resemble large brown peppercorns.
Allspice is most commonly sold as whole dried fruits or as a powder. The whole fruits have a longer shelf-life than the powdered product and produce a more aromatic product when freshly ground before use. Fresh leaves are also 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. The leaves and wood are often used for smoking meats where allspice is a local crop. Allspice can also be found in essential oil form.

Uses

Allspice is one of the most important ingredients of Caribbean cuisine. It is used in Caribbean jerk seasoning (the wood is used to smoke jerk in Jamaica, although the spice is a good substitute), in mole sauces, 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 flavor a variety of stews and meat dishes. In Palestinian cuisine, for example, many main dishes call for allspice as the sole spice added for flavoring. In America, it is used mostly in desserts, but it's also responsible for giving Cincinnati-style chili its distinctive aroma and flavor as well. Allspice is commonly used in Great Britain and appears in many dishes, including in cakes. Even in many countries where allspice is not very popular in the household, such as Germany, it is used in large amounts by commercial sausage makers. Allspice is also a main flavor used in barbecue sauces.
Allspice has also been used as a deodorant; 18th century Russian soldiers would put allspice in their boots. Volatile oils found in the plant contain eugenol, a weak antimicrobial agent (Yaniv, Sohara et al. 2005). Folklore also suggests that allspice provides relief for digestive problems.

Cultivation

Allspice is a small scrubby tree, quite similar to the bay laurel in size and form. It can be grown outdoors in the tropics and subtropics with normal garden soil and watering. Smaller plants can be killed by frost, although larger plants are more tolerant. It adapts well to container culture and can be kept as a houseplant or in a greenhouse. The plant is dioecious, hence male and female plants must be kept in proximity in order to allow fruits to develop.
To protect the pimento trade the plant was guarded against export from Jamaica. It is reported that many attempts were made at growing the pimento from seeds, all failed. At one time it was thought that the plant would grow nowhere else except in Jamaica where the plant was readily spread by birds. Experiments were then performed using the constituents of bird droppings, however these were also totally unsuccessful. Eventually it was realized that an elevated temperature, such as that found inside a bird's body, was essential for germinating the seeds.

Notes

References

  • Yaniv, Zohara et al. Hand Book of Medicinal Plants. 10 Alice Street, Bringhamton, NY 13904-1580: Food Products Press(r), 2005.
allspice in Belarusian: Ангельскае зелле
allspice in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Ангельскае зелле
allspice in Bulgarian: Бахар
allspice in Czech: Pimentovník pravý
allspice in Danish: Allehånde
allspice in German: Piment
allspice in Spanish: Pimenta dioica
allspice in Esperanto: Pimento
allspice in French: Piment de la Jamaïque
allspice in Upper Sorbian: Wšědny korjenjownik
allspice in Icelandic: Allrahanda
allspice in Italian: Pimenta dioica
allspice in Hungarian: Szegfűbors
allspice in Dutch: Piment
allspice in Japanese: オールスパイス
allspice in Norwegian: Allehånde
allspice in Polish: Ziele angielskie
allspice in Portuguese: Pimenta-da-jamaica
allspice in Russian: Перец душистый
allspice in Slovenian: Piment
allspice in Finnish: Maustepippuri
allspice in Swedish: Kryddpeppar
allspice in Tonga (Tonga Islands): Sipaisi
allspice in Turkish: Yenibahar
allspice in Chinese: 多香果
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