Gourmet Food Source
Also known as Jamaican pepper, English spice, myrtle pepper, pimento and tout-épice, this is one of those spices that conjures up smells and images of distant shores and once smelt is easily recognisable in other dishes.
As the name suggests it evokes aromas of different spices, namely nutmeg, peppercorns, cloves, ginger and cinnamon and because of its appearance the early Spanish explorers named it ‘pimienta’. It is a member of the myrtle family and is the dried berry of a tropical evergreen tree native to the West Indies and in particular Jamaica which is considered the home of the spice.
Its use is wide ranging, a key ingredient in Jerk seasoning it is also used in baked goods, old fashioned English chutneys and preserves, Christmas puddings, pies and pickling spice mixes. I like to combine it with standard black peppercorns in a spice mill to give fresh ground pepper an interesting twist, work on roughly three parts black pepper to one part allspice. Use allspice in moderation, it is a powerful spice which can easily overwhelm a dish.
Content and picture © Miles Collins