WHAT IS ALLSPICE?
One of the more misunderstood spices, it’s not a mix of ingredients like cloves or cinnamon. Allspice is both the name of a type of evergreen and its unripe berries. These flowering trees can grow up to 60 feet in height which is a good thing since over 5,000 berries are needed to make 1 pound of this powder. Originally discovered by Spanish explorers, it was mistaken for pepper and so named “pimento.” Keep in mind though that Christopher Columbus also thought North America was actually Asia until his dying day (so naming stuff wasn’t really his forte). For hundreds of years sailors would use this berry to flavor preserved meats. Today allspice is most often seen in the curing and pickling of various foods in Eastern and Western cuisine.
WHY IS ALLSPICE GOOD FOR YOU?
It has anti-inflammatory properties that help with arthritis, gout and general pain reduction. Some claim that it also helps with bloating and having gas but there isn’t much scientific documentation to support this.
WHEN IS ALLSPICE IN SEASON?
After they’re 3 years old, these tropical trees will start to flower from June through August in the northern hemisphere. The berries are harvested about 3 months after flowering and are then sun-dried before being ground into a powder.
HOW SHOULD ALLSPICE BE STORED?
Like with most spices, store whole or ground in an airtight container away from sunlight. But do not refrigerate or freeze them!
IS THE TOM AND JERRY CARTOON NAMED AFTER AN ALLSPICE COCKTAIL?
Yes it is though somewhat indirectly! This winter drink was invented in the 1820s by a British journalist trying to drum up some publicity for a play he’d written. Ironically the drink of the same name became associated with intoxicated young people getting into trouble. That in turn was the basis for the names of the cartoon cat and mouse who were constantly getting into trouble.