Allspice, Pimenta dioica (formerly Pimenta officinalis), is closely related to clove, eucalyptus, guava and the bay rum tree. Allspice is the only spice that is grown exclusively in the Western Hemisphere. It is native to the Caribbean (Jamaica), Mexico, Central America (Belize, Guatemala, Honduras) and South America (Brazil, Leeward Isle).
Allspice is more popular in the West, especially in American, British, Caribbean, German, North African and Scandinavian cuisines. They’re not really used in Asian cooking.
The Taino, the original people of Jamaica, used Allspice for preserving meat and fish. The Spanish adopted this practice and used this same meat preserving technique on voyages to and from Europe. This is similar to how black peppercorns were used in preserving meat.
The British add allspice to stews, sauces and pickled vegetables. In the Caribbean, it’s added to barbecues, curries, stews and sweet potatoes. Whole allspice berries are added to “pimento dram”, a popular Jamaican drink, and allspice is a key ingredient in Jamaican Jerk seasoning. In Germany, allspice is used in biscuits, cakes, pies, pot roasts, relishes and stuffing. In North African cuisines, Allspice is added to “Mrouzia” a lamb tagine and is also a signature spice in the seasoning blends Berbere and Moroccan Vegetable Rub.
Use allspice to flavor vegetables like carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, turnips and winter squash. Soups, pumpkin pie, chili sauces, pickles, relishes, gravies, hamburgers, meatballs, lamb stew, beef roast, stew and meat marinades are also great with allspice.