Allspice is one of the many ingredients used in Jamaican cuisine; in our home we use allspice in its grounded form, or we use the dried berries.
Jamaican allspice is the fruit of the Pimenta dioica tree, and many persons in Jamaica use the name Pimento instead of allspice. Today we grounded some of our dried Pimento berries which we bought at the supermarket. Allspice has a unique taste, but it cannot be eaten alone. When cooking with Pimento, be careful not to use too many berries, and if possible remove them from the meal before serving. The dried berries can be used whole, and you may used them crushed or in grounded form.
We put pimento berries in our pickled peppers, along with carrots and vinegar. We then use the pepper and pimento infused vinegar when cooking our rice, and to season our fish; the picked peppers are used in our soup and in almost every meal.
Allspice is used in Jamaican Jerk sauces, and it adds a distinct flavour to any meal.
In our home, we use grounded allspice to season meats, specifically chicken. We also use Pimento in all our curried meat meals; in sausage meals, and we cook it in our Sunday’s rice and peas.
If your soup or any meat dish is missing “something”, that something will more than likely be allspice.
Allspice is also used in the making of Christmas sorrel drinks; and it is used in deserts, especially those deserts made with pumpkin. A tea made with pimento berries and cinnamon leaves is good for calming the stomach; and as it is being boiled, it fills the house with a wonderful aroma. I read that allspice is a natural source of beta-carotene, Vitamins A, B1, B2, and C, niacin, thiamine, and riboflavin. It also contains minerals such as: iron, potassium, magnesium, selenium, and manganese. Its active elements are methyl eugenol and caryophyllene, resin, tannin, sugar, quercetin, glycosides, and sesquiterpenes; and it contains metabolites of homovanillic and homomandelic acids, malic and gallic acids, lignin and bonastre.
Allspice also contains another active constituent, phenol eugenol, which is used by dentists as an antiseptic, and a local anesthetic for teeth. Eugenol is also used as a germ killer.
It is used for curing gastrointestinal problems, cramps, rheumatic pain, and tooth and gum pain. It is widely used as a carminative, to prevent or relieve flatulence.
Allspice is used as a natural herbal remedy (and had as a tea) for fever, colds, flu, diabetes, menstrual cramps, and heavy menstrual bleeding. It is also used for treating vomiting, stomach ache, diarrhea, and indigestion; and is also effective for other digestive disorders such as dyspepsia, and colic.
Its oils are used to relieve chest infections, arthritis and rheumatism, bruises, and muscle aches and pains. Pimento oil or allspice oil can also be used in vaporizers; a couple of drops can calm the mind and body, and help combat stress and depression.
In our home, we have a bottle of olive oil infused with Pimento leaves and berries in our medicine cabinet. We use it from time to time.While Pimento oil can be extracted from the berries of Pimenta dioica tree, I understand that allspice oil (from both the leaf and the fruit) can also be extracted by steam distillation.
I read that allspice oil should only be used in low dilutions, as it is found to irritate the mucus membrane and to cause dermal irritation.
A very small amount of allspice oil can be used as part of a massage oil for chest infection, severe muscle spasm, or extreme cold. It is also helpful for rheumatism, arthritis, stiffness, chills, congested coughs, and bronchitis.
In our home, we also have some Jamaican white rum infused with pimento berries in our medicine cupboard. A teaspoon may be taken for stomach ailments, and for restoring lost appetite.
I also read that a research done in 2011, found that Jamaican Pimento berry oils possess very high radical fighting activities compared to that of pure eugenol, and also recommended its use as a natural antioxidant along with good flavor and enormous health benefits. This oil produced positive effects on cancerous and degenerative diseases caused by free radicals.
* Please note:
- Allspice is safe for pregnant and breast-feeding women in food amounts. But larger medicinal amounts should be avoided.
- Allspice can slow blood clotting, and persons scheduled for surgery should stop using allspice for at least two weeks before surgery.