AllSpice – An All-rounder spice
Allspice (scientifically known as Pimenta Dioica) is a small berry that comes from a tree. It is commonly called Kabachini in India. It is native to the western Caribbean and more specifically, to the Jamaican region. Initially, it was identified as black pepper by the Spanish and was given the name ‘Pimenta’ which means black pepper in Latin. Allspice is a flavourful mix of other spices like nutmeg, clove, cinnamon. It does not contain all the spices but rather is a blend of different spices into one.
Allspice is a unique spice shaped in the form of a small berry, is in the colour of black and has a strong smell and flavour. It was first discovered by the Europeans in 1621. It is also called as Jamaican pepper because it became popular in the West Indies. It is also found in Mexico, Central America, and India. In India, allspice’s trees can be found growing in Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka. Since it has a taste of cinnamon (sweet) and nutmeg/cloves (savoury), allspice is used in both, sweet and spicy dishes. The berry is paired with black pepper (Kaali Mirch in Hindi), cinnamon (daalcheeni in Hindi), clove (laung in Hindi) as it gives the taste of all of these spices combined.
The berry has different names due to the confusion of its origin. It is referred to as Jamaica pepper, Myrtle pepper, Pimiento, clove pepper etc. The wood of the allspice plant is also used as charcoal to barbecue and smoky grills. The berries are harvested while they are still unripe and green. During the whole process of drying, the berries’ colour changes to brown or reddish-brown. It is considered the best because it has a higher oil content and a better flavour than other spices grown anywhere else. Allspice is used for seasoning soups and curries. It is used in pickles, spiced tea mixes, cakes, cookies, and pies. This spice can be blend in a mixer and can be used as a powder or can be directly used in the food. It must be kept out of light to protect the flavour of the spice. They must be stored in an airtight jar to keep the smell and flavour alive.
There are numerous health benefits of consuming allspice. Allspice’s anti-inflammatory properties help relieve gas, stomach upset, bloating and help with diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting problems as well. Although allspice can relieve cramps and make digestion easy, it should not be consumed in higher concentration or can be toxic to the central nervous system. It is safe to add allspice to children’s meals in very small amounts to help with digestion. It is rich in sources of Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Copper, Vitamin C and Calcium. All of these benefits are a result of the component present is allspice named Eugenol. It makes our bones stronger and body energetic. However, it should not be consumed while being pregnant or during breastfeeding.