Allspice or Jamaican pepper is another spice that has nothing to do as an origin with the plant from which black, white and green pepper is obtained. The grains have the appearance of those of black pepper but are much larger, the taste shares a certain spiciness with pepper, but to a much lesser extent and instead has very marked aromatic qualities , among which a hint of carnation .

The plant and the fruit

The allspice is the fruit of a tree called Pimenta dioica which belongs to the Mirtaceae family, therefore a different family from that of pepper (which by the way is a vine and not a tree) but also from that of the tree from which pink pepper is obtained. In the Mirtaceae family, together with the Pimenta Doica, we find eucalyptus. In nature, the tree can reach a size between 30 and 50 meters, but it can also appear as a more compact tree, also appreciated as an ornamental plant that grows up to a height between 10 and 18 meters. The fruits really resemble those of pepper but in a maxi format, about 6 mm in diameter against the scarce 5 of pepper, they are also green when not yet ripe and are harvested in this way to produce the allspice.

Place of origin and cultivation

Well if it is also called Jamaican pepper, there will be a reason no? Columbus discovered it there and found it nowhere else during his travels. The reason is obvious: on the island the seeds are spread by birds while exporting it elsewhere by making it grow from seeds proved impossible, evidently the passage through the digestive tract of birds has an essential function. In modern times it has taken root in Tonga and Hawaii and is cultivated to a limited extent in some Central American states, but essentially remains a national Jamaican production. The tree bears fruit starting from the fifth year of life.

Properties of the allspice

The speech is the same for the other spices, obviously pimento has nutritional characteristics, but does it make sense to talk about it? For the record we could say for example that 100 grams of allspice contain 1044 mg of potassium, now we want to see you consume 100 grams of pepper all together (don't do it). As for the properties attributed by traditional medicine are many and essentially the same as pepper: vermifuge action, digestive and antiseptic properties , always remembering that if your stomach is not in place, that is, you suffer from gastritis or worse ulcer, with irritants you should be careful, but this applies to all the spices that should never be overused . It was also used in compresses that relieved joint pains and ailments essentially thanks to the sensation of heat they emitted. What does science say? Well allspice contains an essential oil called eugenol which is widely used both in perfumery to package perfumes and in the pharmaceutical industry (as an antiseptic and anesthetic), so even in the absence of specific studies it would seem that at least some of the qualities attributed by tradition would have a foundation.

Curiosities about Jamaican allspice

At the time of the Napoleonic campaigns it seems that Russian soldiers used to put them in their boots, both to combat odors and for the sensation of heat it gave off, since then interest was born on the part of of the perfume industry.

When you buy allspice, look at the label and if you buy it in bulk that is reliable, adulteration is widespread by mixing the fruits of Pimento racemosa, a species very similar to the dioecious Pimento but much less expensive.

Pimento is the Portuguese word for pepper, the origin of the name comes from the mistake made by one of Christopher Columbus' travel companions who mistook it for the fruit from Asia.

The Maya used it in embalming and diluted in bathrooms.

The Aztecs, on the other hand, seem to have mixed it with chocolate and chilli.

What does allspice have to do with pirates? The word buccaneer derives from the boucan or buccan which is the wooden scaffolding that was used to roast meat on a bonfire. Before being pirates, buccaneers were French and Dutch hunters who were chased away by the Spaniards. The meat had to be cured with spices and salt in order to last a long time and pepper was often used, we are talking about the Caribbean sosomeone's hypothesis that one of the most used spices was Jamaican pepper seems very credible.

The particular aroma of the allspice in which hints of more spices are identified, we said cloves so much that it is referred to as clove pepper, but also nutmeg, cinnamon and of course pepper black has caused the spice to be called in English allspice and in French toute-épice .

Various rums flavored with spices are produced in the Antilles, especially Jamaican pepper of course.

The allspice or Jamaican pepper in the kitchen

In Caribbean cuisine allspice (also called Jamaican pepper) is used to flavor beef or chicken , but this spice goes well with any type of dish due to its not being spicy and aromatic. In summary, the taste of allspice is that of a pepper with a mild spiciness and the aroma of cloves, so much so that in the absence of allspice someone suggests that in the recipes you could replace it with a mixture of nutmeg and cloves.

Baked new potatoes flavored with allspice

INGREDIENTS for 8 people

  • New potatoes 1 Kg
  • bacon 70 gr
  • garlic
  • rosemary
  • lemon zest
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt
  • allspice in grains


1) Choose medium sized new potatoes

2) Brush the potatoes well (they must not be peeled)

3) Arrange the potatoes in a baking dish with three or four whole garlic cloves)

4) Drizzle with a drizzle of oil and sprinkle with a handful of coarse salt

5) Bake in the oven at 200 ° for an hour

Sauteed to prepare while the potatoes are cooking:

6) Prepare a battuto with the bacon, a lemon peel and rosemary leaves

7) Sauté in a drizzle of oil

8) Cut the potatoes in half and arrange them on the serving plate

9) Sprinkle with the hot sauté

10) Sprinkle with ground allspice and serve

Recipe source:


Data sheet


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