Allspice – spice blend or a spice on its own?

allspice knowledge base

Upon hearing the name, most people imagine that Allspice is a blend of spices. Actually Allspice is the dry fruit of the Allspice tree Pimento Dioica. Allspice is one of the few New World spices; it’s an evergreen tree native to Central America and Great Antilles. The fruit is picked while unripe and then dried in the sun. Allspice has a complex flavor of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, but much spicier than if you were to mix the three spices together.

Christopher Colombo has found this spice on his quest for spices (black pepper in particular) in America. Misled by the appearance of the Allspice, which resembles black pepper, the fruit was named Pimenta: the Spanish name for black pepper! This is where the Latin name of the genus come from. In fact Allspice and black peppercorn belong to different families of plants. Allspice has been very popular in Europe between 17 and 19 century mainly because Allspice was used as a meet preservative during long voyages. It’s now rising in popularity again.

carolina allspice growing tree
photo: Madeleine Ball


Allspice has traditionally been an important ingredient of Caribbean cuisine, and is also used in Middle Eastern cuisine. It is more or less unknown in Asia, and used primarily for desserts only in the U.S. and U.K. It is used in other parts of europe for it’s health properties such as preserving fish, and for it’s antioxidants. In Germany Allspice is popular in sausage making because of its aroma.

jamaican lamb curry allspice
Jamaican Lamb Curry using Allspice.
photo: Sarah R

Medicinal properties:

The allspice berries have a long history of use in the traditional Caribbean medicine. In Jamaica people drink hot Allspice tea for colds, menstrual cramps and upset stomach. Crushed Allspice is used by Guatemalans to apply on sore joints and tired muscles. Allspice contains Eugenol which is what makes it a useful home remedy to help with digestion. Some other common home remedy uses are for soothing muscles, flu, fever and treating wounds. In recent years many of these remedies have begun to be researched by modern science, and in some cases, confirmed.

It has been proven that Euginol stimulates digestive enzymes, which helps digestion. Much research on this chemical has also concluded that eugenol has mild anti-microbial properties. When ingested it can supress growth of some unwanted bacterias. The antibacterial effect was of the Allspice was confirmed in a medical study together with oregano can surprise e.coli and garlic they can surpress E.coli, Sallmonela enterica an Listeria monocitogenes infection.

Recent medical tests have looked into the anti-tumor properties of the Allspice. A research has found that a compound in the Allspice, can suppress the development of prostate cancer.


Antibacterial Effects of Allspice, Garlic, and Oregano Essential Oils in Tomato Films Determined by Overlay and Vapor‐Phase Methods
Ericifolin: a novel antitumor compound from allspice that silences androgen receptor in prostate cancer.

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