Native to Jamaica, Mexico and Central America, allspice is so named because its flavor suggests a blend of several other spices, including cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Produced from the unripe fruit of the Pimenta dioica tree, it is also called Jamaican pepper or pimento. The fruit, which appears as over-sized reddish-brown peppercorns, can be purchased whole for grinding fresh or as a powder in the spice aisle of your supermarket or natural foods store.
Uses for Allspice
Allspice is used in jerk sauce, rice dishes, soups and stews, as well as in many baked goods such as pumpkin pie, gingerbread, spice bars and molasses cookies. If you grind it yourself, a little goes a long way, and its warm, pungent flavor pairs well with many vegetables such as carrots, spinach, beets and squash.
Substitutions for allspice include equal parts cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg or equal parts of cinnamon and cloves. Allspice can be used as a replacement for any of those spices individually or as a blend such as is used in pumpkin pie filling. Whether store-bought or freshly ground, allspice keeps well in a cool dark place for up to six months.