Ground allspice is a kitchen superhero! This one spice contains all the sweet, savoury and warm flavours of three spice-cupboard favourites: cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. In fact, you can use it anywhere you’d use those individual spices. But don’t be fooled by its name or its flavour profile: Ground allspice isn’t a blend. It’s actually the dried berry of an evergreen tree, indigenous to the Caribbean and Central America. Use it when you’re looking for a fragrant, somewhat peppery note for sweet and savory dishes. Think pumpkin pie, gingerbread, sausage, pickles, glazes for ham and Jamaican jerk seasoning. The aroma alone will conjure up a warm, sunny beach in the Caribbean.
- Caribbean cuisine features allspice in many dishes, including meat and sweet potato stews. It’s also a must-have in Jamaican jerk seasoning, a zesty blend of allspice, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, thyme, garlic, brown sugar, ginger and salt.
- Throughout the United Kingdom, allspice lends spicy fragrance to the holidays. English Christmas pudding, winter gingerbread and fruitcakes combine the peppery warmth of allspice with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.
- Greek cooks are no strangers to the rich flavour of allspice. They use it with cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and cumin to season tomato sauce and marinades. It’s amazing what a pinch or two of ground allspice can do!
- Allspice is a must-have for holiday baking. We love it in molasses cookies, where it’s often mixed with cinnamon and nutmeg. It’s excellent in baked custard as well. We suggest dusting the jiggly surface of the custard with ground allspice as soon as you pull the dish from the oven. You’ll have a dish that looks, smells and tastes irresistible.
- Its ability to balance fruit’s sweetness with zesty warmth makes ground allspice a perfect addition to fruit pies and homemade preserves. We love adding just a hint of it to homemade jam for the fragrance, as well as the taste.
- Allspice joins cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg as a baking staple. Use any combination of these warm, sweet spices in spice cake, pound cake, quick breads and cookies. Get creative! We love adding allspice and cinnamon to peanut butter cookies for a tasty twist.
Q: If I don’t have ground allspice on hand, what makes a good substitute?
A: It’s not easy to stand in for a superhero spice. For sweets like pound cake and cookies, try ground cinnamon alone or with a pinch each of nutmeg and clove. Cinnamon can be used in equal measure on its own. Ground nutmeg and cloves are a bit stronger. Start with a 1/4 teaspoon for each 1/2 teaspoon of allspice and taste as you go. For meat stews, include whole allspice in an herb sachet or bouquet garni. It will release its sweet fragrance and savoury flavour as it cooks.