The allspice or Jamaican pepper is a so-called false pepper, that is a spice obtained from a plant that has nothing to do with piper nigrum but which in somehow it resembles pepper: in appearance and / or taste. In the case of allspice the grains resemble those of black pepper but are much larger. As for the flavor, spiciness is moderate , while the aroma is strong and quite different from that of pepper, tastes of carnation .

The plant and the fruit

The allspice is the fruit of a plant that belongs to the Mirtaceae family, a tree called Pimenta dioica. Therefore a botanical family different from that of the piper nigrum, the plant from which black, white and green pepper are obtained. The eucalyptus and the plant from which cloves are obtained are also part of the Mirtaceae family. In nature it is often an imposing tree that reaches heights between 30 and 50 meters, but it can also appear as a more compact tree, which is also appreciated as an ornamental plant. In this area the height is contained between 10 and 18 meters. The fruits are quite similar to those of pepper but larger, about 6 mm, compared to 5 of the larger varieties of pepper, the color before ripening is green and the harvest is done when they are still like this.

Place of origin and cultivation

Columbus discovered it in Jamaica and found it nowhere else during his travels. The export proved difficult, he could not get the plant to take root elsewhere, it was therefore realized that the seeds are scattered by birds on the island and it was concluded that the passage in their digestive tract must perform some essential function.

Only in modern times has it been able to take root in other places (Tonga, Hawaii, some Central American states) but essentially Jamaican pepper remains because most of the production continues to come from there. For the first four years of life, the tree does not bear fruit.

Jamaican allspice property

We repeat ourselves, as regards the nutritional values ​​we could say for example that allspice is very rich in potassium, but would it make sense to talk about it? Do you plan to consume 50 grams of pepper in one meal? So let's move on to the properties attributed to Jamaican pepper by tradition, essentially the same ones attributed to pepper: disinfectant and digestive action. Even in this case, however, even if the allspice is less spicy than pepper it should be kept in mind that if you have ulcer or gastritis problems you should abstain or limit it to the maximum, and this applies to all spices in reality. And what does science say? Not very directly on the properties of Jamaican pepper, but we know that eugenol (a substance that the industry extracts mainly from cloves but which is also present in allspice) is used in the perfume industry but also in the pharmaceutical industry as an antiseptic. and anesthetic, therefore it would seem at least partial confirmation of the proclamations of traditional medicine

Curiosities about Jamaican allspice

Pimento in Portuguese means pepper, but we said that the spice has only a vague resemblance to pepper and no botanical relationship, then? Fault of the mistake of a traveling companion of Columbus who mistook him for pepper.
The interest on the part of the perfume industry instead began after the disastrous Napoleonic expedition to Russia, it was discovered that Russian soldiers were slipping into the allspice in the boots both to combat odors and for the sensation of warmth it gave off. Obviously it was known by pre-Colombian populations, the Maya used it precisely for its ability to cover odors, in embalming, the Aztecs instead added it to chocolate.

Jamaican allspice in the kitchen

And finally we come to the kitchen, but what does allspice taste like? Basically it is a slightly spicy and very aromatic pepper and the aroma resembles that of cloves with which, as we have seen , the pimenta doica is related. In traditional Jamaican cuisine it is used on meats, but its low spiciness and aromaticity make it a very versatile spice. We chose the recipe for a first course.

Rice with curry vegetables


  • Eggplant 250gr
  • Zucchini 2
  • Mushrooms 200gr
  • Red peppers 1
  • White onion 1
  • AglI 1 clove
  • Copper tomatoes 2
  • Extra virgin olive oil 3 tablespoons
  • Curry 1 tablespoon
  • Allspice 1 pinch
  • Arborio rice 120gr
  • Parsley 1 bunch
  • 3dl water
  • Salt to taste


1) Wash the aubergine, cut it into cubes, put it in a colander and sprinkle with a little salt. Let it rest for 15 minutes.

2) Tick the courgettes, wash them and cut them into slices.

3) Peel and finely slice the onion.

4) Clean the mushrooms, wash them quickly and cut them into slices.

5) Wash the pepper, peel it and chop it.

6) Chop the garlic clove.

7) Peel the tomatoes and cut them into cubes.

8) Drain the aubergine, wash it and drain it again.

9) Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan, add the diced aubergine, brown them, then place them on absorbent paper.

10) Pour the remaining oil into the pan, sauté the onion and garlic.

11) Combine the courgettes, pepper and brown for a few minutes.

12) Add the mushrooms, salt and cook for 2 minutes over high heat, stirring often.

13) Combine the tomatoes, curry (previously soaked in a little hot water for 20 minutes) and allspice.

14) Brown for 2-3 minutes and add the rice.

15) Leave to flavor for a minute and add the broth. 16) Cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally; 4 minutes before the end of cooking, add the diced aubergine. When cooked, sprinkle with parsley and serve on the table.

Recipe source: Yummy. it


Data sheet


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