Allspice, as its name suggests, tastes like a multitude of spices, but it comes from a single berry of the Pimenta diocia plant. Some describe the flavor as a combination of nutmeg cinnamon, cloves and pepper, but there’s nothing like the original, fresh berry itself. Not only does allspice find a home in a multitude of dishes from fancy restaurants to on your own kitchen table, it also has many folk medicinal uses, and finds itself in perfumes and candles, given its pleasant smell. Here are five ways you can use this versatile berry.
Pickling with Allspice
Using whole allspice berries in your pickling brine is one of the most common and delicious uses for allspice. Including your whole allspice berries a brine where the base is cider vinegar and including other herbs and spices is a very common and delicious pickling option, used to pickle anything from cucumbers and onions, to beets or cauliflower. Allspice can find its way into both sweet and savory dishes without missing a beet.
Allspice as an Antimicrobial
There are numerous compounds found in the allspice berry, including both ericifolin and eugenol, both of which are being studied for their antifungal and antimicrobial effects on the body. The oil has been extracted and used in experiments to kill a yeast that is normally resistant to some antifungal drugs, and has been tested positively against listeria, E. coli and Salmonella, among others.
Allspice in Meat Dishes
Allspice will bring out the best in your chili, whether meat-based or vegetarian, especially when combined with some cinnamon. It’s also used to help add character in any protein of your choice, especially if combined with other herbs and spices for brining your favorite cut of meat.
Allspice as a Pain Reliever
Some people have been known to rely on using allspice berries to fight pains likes cramps, tooth pain and even headaches. The compound eugenol is found in allspice, and is frequently used as an analgesic in dentistry to help relieve tooth pain. It has also been studied for its positive effects on promoting circulation in muscles, helping relieve strains and other muscle pains. Allspice is also used to reduce inflammation, which is a major cause of pain in many people.
Allspice in the Evening
If you’re settling down for a nice hot rum toddy, or some mulled apple cider or spiced wine, you can’t go wrong including allspice in the mix. If you simmer the allspice directly in the drink you choose, consider adding orange slices and cinnamon sticks to help those warm flavors pop.
You’re not likely to find a more flexible spice than Allspice berries. Whether used whole or ground, they can find their way into any dish on your table, and in fact multiple dishes at the same time. While it can find a home among your typical holiday spices, its equally at home helping you cook pork or chicken in a delicious rub.