The name of the spice indicates that it offers a combination of flavours. The fragrance of Allspice is reminiscent of a combination of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The tree is evergreen and the spice is its berry. It is plucked when green and unripe and then dried. The dried berries are similar in shape and size to regular peppercorns, though marginally larger and dark brown in colour. The berries are very high in eugenol, a volatile oil that provides the flavouring substance for the berry.
Allspice is the pea-sized, berry-like, dark-red to blackish-brown, 5 – 10 cm fruit, harvested when not quite ripe, of the evergreen allspice tree (Pimenta dioica). The fruit contains two compartments, each with one seed. Allspice is so named because its aroma resembles a mixture of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Other, vernacular names for allspice include Pimento and Jamaica pepper. Oil content: 2.0 – 5.0% essential oils, in particular allspice berry oil.
Allspice contain eugenol, which gives properties as digestive aids and anti-flatulent. Eugenol when applied on the skin irritates it and acts as a vasodilator. It is, therefore, a thermogenic compound that makes the skin feel warmer. This contributes to the warmth enhancing abilities of Allspice. In addition to this, Allspice contains tannins, which give it very mild anaesthetic properties. This has lead to its use as a traditional means of alleviating joint and arthritic pains, as well as pain from strained muscles. It is added to hot-packs and warm baths to enable it to act as a pain-relieving agent.
All spice is used as an ingredient, in the pharmaceutical and food industries (bakery and sausage products, sauces, fish and meat dishes) and is the most popular pickling spice. The essential oil contained in allspice (allspice berry oil) is used to season bitter liqueurs such as pork, chicken and kid use Allspice. In fact, it is an essential flavouring for jerked food. On the European Continent, it is used to flavour marinades, meat rubs, in English spiced beef and game, in German sauerkraut, in Scandinavian pickled herring and roll mops, as a pickling spice along with dill and peppercorns, and is used to mull wine along with, or as a substitute for, cloves and cinnamon. In fact, Allspice is used in all places where cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg are ordinarily employed. Traditionally, Allspice has been used in cakes, especially in traditional Christmas plum and fruit cakes. It is also used instead of cinnamon and cloves in pies containing fruit, steamed puddings and ice cream. In America, it is used in the traditional Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. Some Indian curries and rice dishes contain Allspice. In the Middle East, it is used in meat and rice dishes.