Allspice also known as pimento Clove pepper and Jamaican pepper. In Jamaica Pimenta officinalis is an important crop; when the trees are in bloom, their scent fills the air and the plantations are referred to as “ pimento walks”.
The Pimenta officinalis tree is part of the Myrtle family, in summer it produces purplish black round sweet berries (these are not related to the capsicum garden peppers pimientos). The leaves of this tree are infused for tea.
These berries were first introduced to Europe in 16th Century, when an English botanist John Ray considered their flavour to be a mixture of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg.
The allspice berries are full of fragrant oil that is distilled from the dried unripe fruits. This oil is pale yellow, smells sweet, warm and spicy and has antiseptic and antioxidant qualities.
Allspice oil is used in perfumery, and as a fruit flavour. Externally it is used medicinally to treat chest infections and muscular aches and pains. Ground allspice berries are used to make medicines more palatable, in liniments and plasters.
Whole dried unripe berries are used in pickling spice blends, marinades, and mulled wine. Powdered berries are used to flavour cakes, biscuits, puddings, and chutneys.
Folk medicine uses allspice berries as a digestive aid, antiseptic and for nervous exhaustion.
We use allspice oil in our spicy Chai shower gel for both its antiseptic quality and for its warm spicy aroma that blends well with the ginger and cinnamon leaf oils.