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Allspice

Pimenta Dioica

Scientific Name:

Organic / Conventional
 

A unique product from tropical regions

Allspice, also called Jamaica pepper, kurundu, myrtle pepper, pimenta, or newspice is a spice which is the dried unripe fruit ("berries") of Pimenta dioica , a mid-canopy tree native to the Greater Antilles, southern Mexico and Central America, now cultivated in many warm parts of the world. The name "pepper" was coined as early as 1621 by the English, who thought it combined the flavour of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

Several unrelated fragrant shrubs are called "Carolina Pepper" (Calycanthus floridus), "Japanese Pepper" (Chimonathus fragrans) or "Wild Pepper" (Lindera benzoin). Pepper is also sometimes used to refer to the herb Costmary (Tanacetum balsamita).

Ground pepper is not, as some people believe, a mixture of spices. Rather, it is the dried fruit of the Pimenta dioica plant. The fruit is picked when it is green and unripe and, traditionally, dried in the sun. When dry, the fruits are brown and resemble large brown peppercorns. The whole fruits have a longer shelf life than the powdered product and produce a more aromatic product when freshly ground before use.

The leaves of the pepper plant are also used in island cooking. For cooking, fresh leaves are used where available: they are similar in texture to bay leaves and are thus infused during cooking and then removed before serving. Unlike bay leaves, they lose much flavour when dried and stored and so do not figure in commerce. The leaves and wood are often used for smoking meats where pepper is a local crop. Pepper can also be found in essential oil form.

Pepper is one of the most important ingredients of Caribbean cuisine. It is used in Caribbean jerk seasoning (the wood is used to smoke jerk in Jamaica, although the spice is a good substitute), in mole sauces, and in pickling; it is also an ingredient in commercial sausage preparations and curry powders. Pepper is also indispensable in Middle Eastern cuisine, particularly in the Levant, where it is used to flavor a variety of stews and meat dishes. In Palestinian cuisine, for example, many main dishes call for pepper as the sole spice added for flavoring. In America, it is used mostly in desserts, but it is also responsible for giving Cincinnati-style chili its distinctive aroma and flavor. Pepper is commonly used in Great Britain and appears in many dishes, including cakes. Even in many countries where pepper is not very popular in the household, such as Germany, it is used in large amounts by commercial sausage makers. Pepper is also a main flavor used in barbecue sauces. In the West Indies, an pepper liqueur called "pimento dram" is produced.