Allspice is an interesting name, as is suggests that it’s not a single dried berry that comes from the Pimento tree. However the name is derived from the fact that this perennial shrub, also referred to as the Jamaican Pepper, combines many tastes from common spices such as clove, cinnamon and nutmeg. It’s an evergreen, reaching to heights of an impressive 12 meters tall, with greyish bark and pale pink inflorescence.
Used most commonly in Caribbean jerk seasoning, many desserts and to shade cultivated coffee trees, Allspice shrubs are only spread efficiently by birds who consume and disperse their seeds. Berries are collected, dried and denuded of their 1-2 seeds (the flavour and health benefits are best retained by buying whole berries and grinding yourself, much like peppercorn).
It relies on a forgiving tropical climate comparative to its native locations in Mexico and Central America. Christopher Columbus “discovered” them in this fashion in the 16th century, sending samples back to his Crown in Europe, where it was well-received. The leaves have also been used for cooking in a similar fashion to bay leaves.
There are many identified health benefits of Allspice. These include- but are not limited to- pain relief, aid in circulation, balancing mood, immunity boosts, and lowering blood pressure. Beneficial compounds include eugenol, quercetin and tannins (like wine!) in collaboration with high vitamin content of manganses, calcium and vitamin C.
If you’re not feeling inclined to harvest the actual berries, plants grown indoors are fairly simple to care for, and are aesthetically coveted by many Planties. There are many Organic varieties available online, suggesting that common practise today involves unsound chemicals and irradiation.
Organic Allspice, Whole