Care Of Carolina Allspice Shrub – Learn About Growing Allspice Bushes
Carolina allspice is one of the most popular spices used in cooking. There are many different varieties of it, but they have similar characteristics: They’re small plants with red flowers. Most varieties grow well in warm climates, although some need cool winters or summers to thrive.
The plant produces seeds that fall from the foliage once the weather warms up enough for them to germinate. Seeds are usually white, oval shaped and slightly flattened at the top.
The leaves of the plant are long and thin, almost like those of a parsley leaf. They’re dark green, smooth and somewhat hairy on their edges. The flowers appear in clusters of five to seven petals that range from pale pink to deep purple with yellow centers.
Each flower is about 1/2 inch across and has three stamens (stalked ovaries) each containing two tiny seeds. The seeds are about the size of a pea.
Carolina allspice has been grown for centuries in various parts of the world, including North America. Its use dates back to ancient times when it was used as a spice to flavor food and drinks. Today, it’s found in everything from soups and salads to desserts and even baked goods.
You’ll often see it mixed into pickles, sauces, dips and dressings. It’s also used to flavor meats, especially in the Caribbean and Latin America.
Allspice is the name of a small evergreen tree (called myrtle) that grows wild in Jamaica, Central America, southern Mexico and the West Indies. The name “allspice” comes from the fact that it tastes like a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. It’s also known as Jamaican pepper and sometimes called pimenta, the Spanish word for pepper.
The leaves are dried and used to make a powdered spice that’s used in cooking. Also, the hollowed out berries (which contain no seeds) are used as convenient containers for grated allspice leaves.
In the United States, allspice is mainly grown in Hawaii, Florida, California, and Texas. It’s also found in Jamaica and other tropical locales.
When you buy allspice, buy whole berries with no signs of mold or decay. The spice is best stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to a year. It’s not recommended that you refrigerate or freeze it because this can cause the oil in the berries to crystallize and make the spices taste harsh.
It’s important that you only buy whole allspice berries. Never buy ‘pimento’ which are just the pimenta dioica leaves stuffed into a cavity in a ripe pear and then pickled in brine. These aren’t the same thing and don’t have the same flavor or aroma as allspice berries.
If you’re going to grind your own allspice, be sure to wait until just before you need to use it because the dried berries quickly lose their vivid aroma when exposed to air and friction. To grind them, put about a dozen berries (or more if needed) in a clean coffee or spice grinder and just pulse until they’re broken into small pieces. Store ground allspice in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for no more than 6 months.
Whole allspice berries can be used whole when a recipe calls for ground allspice. They’re often sold already ground, so check the label to be sure. If you don’t have any ground allspice and have some whole berries, just put about a dozen of them (or more if needed) in a clean coffee or spice grinder and pulse until they’re broken into small pieces.
Be careful not to over grind or you’ll end up with a fine powder.
Allspice is one of the ingredients in the distinctive pickling spice mixture. It’s also used in jerk seasoning (a famous food of Jamaica), as well as stews, marinades, and Barbecue sauce.
Allspice can be substituted for juniper berries in recipes. It can also be used in place of cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg, but keep in mind that it is much stronger than those spices. For example, ¼ of the amount of allspice can substitute for nutmeg.
There really aren’t any exact culinary substitutions for allspice because it is such a unique flavor, but you can experiment with various spices to come up with the right combination of flavors. Keep in mind that your allspice mixture is going to be much stronger than other spices, so you will need to decrease the amount of allspice and increase the amount of another spice in the recipe.
Along with its culinary uses, allspice is also used as a medicine. In small amounts, it can help relieve gastrointestinal distress by acting as a carminative (gas reliver). As you probably know, that’s one of the main ingredients in those bottles of Relief Drops you can buy at the drugstore.
Allspice is a common ingredient in Caribbean and Middle Eastern cooking. It’s especially popular in Jamaican cuisine, hence its name. It’s used in jerk seasonings, marinades, beans, stews, fruits, tea, and even desserts.
If you like different types of exotic food with a combination of sweet, pungent and peppery tastes, then allspice berries are for you. Allspice is the “key” ingredient that helps make jerk seasoning and barbecue sauce what they are.
A little known fact is that allspice is used as a flavoring agent in root beer. It’s also used in some recipes for Thanksgiving stuffing, and baked beans. It has a flavor similar to a mixture of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.
As you can see, Allspice comes from the dried berries of a Pimenta dioica plant. It can be found growing wild in Jamaica and other tropical locations. It’s used in a wide variety of culinary dishes, including jerk chicken and pork, pickles, chutney, baked beans, sauerkraut, bread pudding, and pickled pork.
It also is added to beer, gin, wine and other liquors.
Allspice can be found at the grocery store in the form of whole berries or ground up powder. It has a long shelf life if kept in a cool, dry place. It’s not uncommon to see it in capsule form at the drug store.
Allspice is also known as Jamaica pepper, myrtle pepper, new taste, newspice, newspan, and pimenta.
As you know, Allspice can be used effectively in a number of dishes. The trick is to use it in moderation for the best results. It’s easy to overdo it with this spice.
It’s not a flavor that most people would want to eat in large quantities.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
* Jamaican Jerk Chicken – This is the traditional way to prepare chicken with Allspice. The chicken is marinated in a mixture of Allspice, oil, garlic, thyme, soy sauce and lime juice. It’s cooked on a grill or over a fire.
* Allspice Baked Ham – A boneless ham is covered with brown sugar, Allspice, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown mustard. It’s baked in a slow oven for several hours. You can also add a cup of dark rum for an extra kick.
* Allspice Pickles – Cucumbers are sliced, covered in brine and allowed to sit for 3 days. The brine is made of water, salt, sugar, mustard seeds, chili flakes, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and whole Allspice berries. The longer you leave the cucumbers in the brine, the stronger they get.
* Allspice Steamed Mussels – Mussels are steamed in a mixture of white wine, garlic, onion, tomato paste, Allspice, bay leaves and thyme. Other shellfish such as shrimp, crawfish and clams can also be used.
* Hoppin’ John – This is a traditional Southern dish made of black-eyed peas and rice. It’s seasoned with onion, pepper, garlic and some Allspice. Ham hock, salt pork or bacon can be used to flavor the mixture.
It usually contains a whole stick of butter!
* Pickled Pineapple – This is a very easy recipe that just requires you slicing up fresh pineapples, covering them in water, salt and sugar then leaving them to soak for 3 days. The longer you leave them soaking, the stronger they get. You can also add some chili flakes or ginger for extra flavor.
* Pumpkin Pie – This delicious dessert is made from fresh pumpkin that has been mashed, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and Allspice. Brown sugar, molasses and cream are added to create a tasty pie filling. You can also mix in whipped cream for an extra kick.
There are many other ways you can use this versatile spice. Be creative and try out some of your own ideas. You’ll be surprised how a little bit of Allspice can transform an otherwise bland dish into something spectacular.
Just remember to use it sparingly.
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Sources & references used in this article:
Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of Great Smoky Mountains National Park by DG Hessayon – 1994 – Sterling Publishing Company, Inc.
Trees & shrubs of Kentucky by T Bridgeman – 1847 – books.google.com
Plants of colonial days by ME Wharton – 1973 – books.google.com