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Pimenta dioica is a tree commonly found in the Greater Antilles, southern Mexico, and Central America. Dry the unripe berry of this tree. That is how you make the spice known today as “allspice.”

Allspice Trivia

  • It was called allspice in 1621 because it has the flavor of three different spices: clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Phyllis A. Balch, in the book Prescription for Dietary Wellness: Using Foods to Heal, describes the flavor of allspice as a combination of cinnamon, pepper, juniper, and clove.
  • Allspice is known by other names, like Jamaica pepper, myrtle pepper, pimenta, pimienta (the name given to it when it was brought to Spain, thinking it was pepper),  and pimento, the Anglicized name for pimienta.
  • Some shrubs are called allspice too – Carolina allspice, Japanese allspice, and wild allspice. Despite the name, these are, in no way, related to allspice.

Allspice Buying Guide

When buying allspice, you’ll notice that it is typically sold in powder form. But if you want to upgrade your knowledge about spices, try to get to know more about allspice before buying them and using them in the kitchen.

Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Myrtales
Family: Myrtaceae
Genus: Pimenta
Species: P. dioica
Binomial name: Pimenta dioica

So you need to buy allspice, but what kind exactly? You can find whole or cracked dried allspice berries, ground allspice berries, and even allspice extract in liquid form.

Allspice Production & Farming in Texas

The crucial part of producing allspice we use in the kitchen is harvesting the fruits or berries before they are fully ripe. Harvested unripe berries are then sun-dried until the green berries turn reddish brown.

The Texas winter enveloping most of Texas annually is a problem for those growing allspice trees. Howard Garrett, in his book Texas Gardening the Natural Way: The Complete Handbook, wrote about how “freezes in all parts of Texas except the southern tip of the state” is a problem for allspice trees and tree-growers in the state.

There is no commercial production of allspice in Texas. Nonetheless, allspice is easy to find here. It is sold in groceries, supermarkets, and specialty spice stores, like Spice N More, which specializes in manufacturing and wholesale distribution of spices like allspice, with offices in Houston and Fort Worth. The Texas Brewing Company, located in Haltom City, sells Jamaican allspice berries. Faraday’s Kitchen Store, in Austin, Texas, has The Spice Hunter Organic Ground Allspice.

Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals

A bottle of allspice may contain flour, which is used to prevent allspice from clumping.


Trees that produce allspice are found all over West Indies, Central America, and southern Mexico. Some of the countries that produce allspice are Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Jamaica. Mathew Attokaran, in the book Natural Food Flavors and Colorants, wrote: “Jamaica is the major producer of allspice.”

Allspice found its way to Spain (and eventually, in many parts of Europe) thanks to one famous explorer. Christopher Columbus is a famed discoverer, and he is credited for having discovered allspice in the Caribbean, which he brought back to Spain. It is worth noting that Columbus was actually looking for pepper, but having no idea what pepper really is or how allspice and pepper are different from one another, he mistook allspice for pepper.

According to the book The Complete Book on Spices & Condiments, allspice “was first imported into Europe in 1601 as a substitute for cardamom.”

The spread of allspice in Europe is attributed to Sephardic Jewish refugees living in the Spanish town of Santiago de la Vega and Port Royal in Jamaica. They were the ones responsible for shipping allspice to other Jewish traders residing in other major ports used in the Old World. Allspice moved among traders and consumers because it was brought in from ports in Constantinople, Venice, Genoa, Amsterdam, and London.

It was known as “newspice” in England. When it became available in England, it was immediately used for pickling and making stews. Gary Paul Nabhan, in the book Cumin, Camels, and Caravans: A Spice Odyssey, wrote: “When it arrived in London, the English named it newspice and became its most fanatic consumers in the Old World.”

According to the book Plantas medicinales, aromáticas o venenosas de Cuba (Tomo II) by Juan Tomás Roig y Mesa, here are the different names of allspice (as it is known in specific countries):

  • Costa Rica: pimiento oloroso
  • Cuba: Pimienta blanca, pimienta gorda, pimenta malagueta
  • El Salvador: pimienta gorda
  • French Antilles: piment de la Jamaique, toute epice
  • Guatemala: pimienta gorda
  • Jamaica: allspice, pimienta, pimiento oloroso
  • Mexico: malagueta, pimenton, pimento, pimienta de Tabasco, pimienta gorda
  • Nicaragua: pimiento oloroso
  • Puerto Rico: palo de malagueta, pimienta malagueta

Christopher Columbus was not the only one who thought allspice is just pepper. According to Nabhan, “The majority of language groups to which allspice was introduced initially described it as just that: one more kind of pepper (piment, pitperi, pjerets, pepe, Pfeffer), with allusions to it being a sweet pepper in its Arabic (filfil infranji halu), Mandarin Chinese (ganjiao), and Cantonese Chinese (gam jiu) names. The Berbers in Algeria call it fulful mexik, or “Mexican pepper,” suggesting that it may have entered the Maghreb through early Mexican exports to Andalusia and Morocco. Bulgarians and Georgians simply treat it as one more Turkish- or Arab-introduced spice (bahar) suitable for adding to spice mixes such as baharat and ras el hanout.”


Allspice is sold in plastic, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, or glass bottles with a lid that serve the purpose of storage as well as a dispenser. The packaging includes cap shrink wrap for product safety and a label to make sure consumers are provided with the information they need, like ingredients, nutritional information, batch number, location of production and manufacturing, etc. You can also find allspice sold in plastic refill packs, single-use packets, or pouches, as well as in a resealable, moisture-proof aluminum-lined stand-up plastic or paper bag with a valve zipper.

Enjoying Allspice

Food that is cooked using allspice often has that warm, somewhat sweet, robust, noticeable peppery flavor that is delicious and does not sting nor does it overpower the other flavors present in the dish. When you smell it, allspice is aromatic and pungent.

Allspice helps make food and drinks delicious. This spice is beneficial too. But like everything else, it should be consumed in moderation. Iris F. F. Benzie and Sissi Wachtel-Galor, in the book Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects (Second Edition), wrote: “There are concerns that allspice oil can be toxic and promote inflammation, nausea, and vomiting when consumed in excess.”

Victoria Epperly, in the book Daniel’s Lifestyle Fasting Cook Book, wrote: Allspice oil should never be swallowed as it can cause nausea, vomiting, and even convulsions.”

The commercial production of popular pantry foods like ketchup, pickles, and sausages relies on the use of allspice for flavor in their products.


Store allspice in a cool, dry place. The kitchen pantry is ideal. If you have a spice rack or spice cabinet, keep your allspice there.
If you have excess allspice you don’t want to store, here’s an interesting idea: put whole allspice in your potpourri!


Allspice has many uses.  It is popular when making soups, stews, and curries. Allspice is used in baking or as a seasoning for different kinds of meats, poultry, seafood, fish, and vegetables like winter squash and carrots. Whole or cracked allspice berries are used when marinating chicken or pork. Mix it with ground beef when making meatloaf or hamburgers.

You will improve the flavor of roasted jerk chicken, fried snapper, shrimp stew, beef stew, pot roasts, and bean soups by using allspice. Use it when making barbecue and tomato sauces. Aside from using it on meat, you can also add flavor to your soups (like spiced butternut squash soup), chili and chili sauce, and mole sauce. Use allspice when making carrot cakes angel food cake or white cake, oatmeal cookies, and crumb muffins. Homemade cream cheese frosting for spice cakes will benefit greatly if you add allspice in it, as well as applesauce and fruit compotes.

It is used by Bengali and Hindi cooks as an ingredient for the rub used when making Chinese kebabs or kabab chini. It is also used when making rub and marinades in Lebanon, or when they make kebab, kibbe, and kefta.

Allspice is also used in making pickling spice as well as spiced tea mixes and rum cocktails. Homemade chai tea is made more delicious by adding allspice!

Allspice in beverages is not new. John Staller and Michael Carrasco, in the book Pre-Columbian Foodways, wrote about several traditional Mexican chocolate-based drinks that were flavored by allspice, explaining that the chocolate added to posol from Tabasco, tan uk’ul from Yucatan, and champurrado from Oaxaca “is composed of ground cacao beans with sugar, cinnamon, and sometimes allspice.”

Mix allspice, black, white, and green peppercorns in your pepper grinder to make a tasty seasoning blend. Here’s another use for your allspice: use it to make the famous Ethiopian spice blend Berbere. Use it as a substitute for cloves.

Phyllis A. Balch, in the book Prescription for Dietary Wellness: Using Foods to Heal, explained how to use allspice in the kitchen. “Whole or ground berries can be used with sweet and savory foods. Add a few berries when making stock or stew; add ground allspice to mulled cider, fruit desserts, and pumpkin pie.

It is not just dried immature allspice berries that are used in cooking. Even the leaves and wood from an allspice tree are also used in cooking. PN Ravindran, in the book The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Spices, wrote: “The unique flavour and taste of Caribbean dishes are mainly from the liberal use of allspice; even meat is stuffed with allspice leaves and barbecued over a fire of allspice wood.”

Caution should be exercised when using allspice. People with hand dermatitis display allergic reactions upon contact with allspice when cooking.  James A. Duke, in the book Handbook of Medicinal Herbs: Herbal Reference Library, wrote: “Eugenol, the principal constituent of leaves and fruits, is toxic in large quantities and causes contact dermatitis. Allspice itself is irritant to the skin. 408 patients with hand eczema, 19 showed positive patch test reaction to allspice.”

Nutritional Benefits

Allspice contains eugenol which is believed to have antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and cancer-fighting properties, quercetin, which is believed to have cancer-fighting, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties, gallic acid, which is believed to have cancer-fighting and antiviral properties, as well as helping protect the body from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Allspice also has ericifolin, which is believed to have antibacterial and cancer-fighting properties.

Allspice is also considered helpful in dealing with menopause, aches and pains, weight management, gas and bloating, and blood sugar management.

Phyllis A. Balch, in the book Prescription for Dietary Wellness: Using Foods to Heal, pointed out the benefits allspice offers: “As a healing spice, allspice has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer properties. Oil from allspice berries is an effective pain reliever and may promote digestive enzyme activity. For toothache, apply allspice oil with a cotton swab directly to the tooth or gum. To make a digestive tea, use 1 to 2 teaspoons of allspice powder per cup of boiling water; steep for ten to twenty minutes, then strain. Key nutrients in allspice include calcium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin A, vitamin E, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B1 (thiamine), zinc, folate, and fiber. Phyto-chemicals include limonene, eugenol, alpha-pinene, and phytosterols.”



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