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Allspice
Allspice
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Myrtales
Family: Myrtaceae
Genus: Pimenta
Species: P. dioica
Binomial name
Pimenta dioica
(L.) Merr.

Allspice, also called Jamaica pepper, kurundu, myrtle pepper, pimenta,[1] 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.[2] The name "allspice" was coined as early as 1621 by the English, who thought it combined the flavour of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.[3]

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

Contents

Preparation/form

Whole allspice berries

Ground allspice 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 allspice 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 allspice is a local crop. Allspice can also be found in essential oil form.

Allspice 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. Allspice 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 allspice 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. Allspice is commonly used in Great Britain and appears in many dishes, including cakes. Even in many countries where allspice is not very popular in the household, such as Germany, it is used in large amounts by commercial sausage makers. Allspice is also a main flavor used in barbecue sauces.[citation needed] In the West Indies, an allspice liqueur called "pimento dram" is produced.

Allspice has also been used as a deodorant. Volatile oils found in the plant contain eugenol, a weak antimicrobial agent,[4] Allspice is also reported to provide relief for indigestion and gas.[5]

Cultivation

Pimenta dioica leaves in Goa, India.

Allspice is a small scrubby tree, quite similar to the Bay Laurel in size and form. It can be grown outdoors in the tropics and subtropics with normal garden soil and watering. Smaller plants can be killed by frost, although larger plants are more tolerant. It adapts well to container culture and can be kept as a houseplant or in a greenhouse. The plant is dioecious, meaning plants are either male or female and hence male and female plants must be kept in proximity in order to allow fruits to develop.

To protect the pimenta trade, the plant was guarded against export from Jamaica. It is reported that many attempts were made at growing the pimenta from seeds, all failed. At one time it was thought that the plant would grow nowhere else except in Jamaica, where the plant was readily spread by birds. Experiments were then performed using the constituents of bird droppings; however, these were also totally unsuccessful. Eventually it was realized that passage through the avian gut, either the acidity or the elevated temperature, was essential for germinating the seeds. Today Pimenta is spread by birds in Tonga Hawai'i, where it has become naturalized on Kaua'i and Maui.[6]

Names in different languages

Arabic: فلفل إفرنجي (filfil Ifranjī, 'Frankish pepper'[7]) or فلفل حلو (filfil ḥulw, 'sweet pepper')
Bengali: কাবাব চিনি kabab chini ('Chinese cubeb')
Bulgarian: бахар (bakhar)
Chinese: 多香果 duoxiangguo ('multi-fragrance fruit'), 众香子 zhongxiangzi ('multi-fragrance seed'), or 牙买加胡椒 Yamaijia hujiao 'Jamaican pepper')
Croatian: piment
Czech: nové koření ('new spice')
Danish: allehånde
Dutch: piment
Estonian: vürts, vürtspipar
Finnish: maustepippuri ('spice pepper')
French: piment de la Jamaïque, quatre-épices
German: Piment, Allgewürz ('all-spice'), or Nelkenpfeffer ('clove pepper')
Greek: μπαχάρι bahari ('spice')
Haitian Creole: bwa pwav ('pepper wood')
Hebrew: פלפל אנגלי pilpel Angli ('English pepper')[8]
Hungarian: szegfűbors ('clove pepper')
Icelandic: allrahanda
Italian: pepe giamaicano ('Jamaican pepper')
Jamaican Patois: pimento
Lithuanian: kvapusis pipiras ('fragrant pepper')
Macedonian: пименто (pimento)
Norwegian: allehånde
Persian: فلفل فرنگى شيرين (felfel-e farangi (shirin) '(sweet) foreign pepper')
Polish: ziele angielskie ('English herb')
Portuguese: pimenta-da-Jamaica (Jamaican pepper)
Romanian: ienibahar
Russian: перец душистый (perets dushistyy, 'fragrant pepper')
Slovak: nové korenie ('new spice')
Spanish (Dominican Republic): malagueta
Spanish (Ecuadorian): pimienta dulce ('sweet pepper')
Spanish (Mexican): pimienta gorda ('fat pepper')
Spanish (Spain): pimienta jamaicana ('Jamaican pepper')
Spanish (Venezuelan): pimienta guayabita
Swedish: kryddpeppar ('spice pepper')
Turkish: yeni bahar ('new spice')
Ukrainian: перець духмяний (perets′ dukhmyaniy)
Welsh: pupur Jamaica ('Jamaican Pepper')

Notes and References

  1. ^ Note, however, that the name pimento, often substituted when pimenta is intended, is properly used for a certain kind of large, red, heart-shaped sweet pepper that measures three to four inches long and two to three inches wide. Its flesh is sweet, succulent and more aromatic than that of the red bell pepper. These pimentos are the familiar red stuffing found in quality green olives.
  2. ^ Riffle, Robert L. (1 August 1998). The Tropical Look: An Encyclopedia of Dramatic Landscape Plants. Timber Press. ISBN 0881924229. 
  3. ^ Oxford English Dictionary (2 ed.). Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press. 1 March 1989. ISBN 0198611862. http://dictionary.oed.com. Retrieved 12 December 2009. 
  4. ^ Yaniv, Zohara; Bacharach, Uriel, eds (1 April 2005). Handbook of Medicinal Plants. Brighamton, New York: Food Products Press and Haworth Medical Press. pp. 336. ISBN 1560229942. 
  5. ^ "The healing power of Spices". CBC News. 31 October 2006. http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/health/spices.html. Retrieved 12 December 2009.  (CBC) "The healing power of Spices"
  6. ^ Lorence, David H.; Flynn, Timothy W.; Wagner, Warren L. (1 March 1995). "Contributions to the Flora of Hawai'i III". Bishop Museum Occasional Papers (Honolulu, Hawaii: Bishop Museum Press) 41: 19 - 58. ISSN 0893-1348. http://hbs.bishopmuseum.org/pdf/op41-19-58.pdf. Retrieved 12 December 2009. 
  7. ^ Allspice reached Arab markets through European—"Frankish"—traders.
  8. ^ Katzer, Gernot. "Spice Pages: Allspice (Pimenta dioica (L.) Mer.)". http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Pime_dio.html. Retrieved 12 December 2009. 

External links

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