I can remember as a child being at the grocery store with my mother while she was looking for Allspice to use in some recipe. Being that young and seeing all those bottles of spices I can remember thinking, “Why are there so many bottles? If you have ‘All-Spice’ can’t you use that for everything? Doesn’t it spice everything?” In fact, I think I may have even asked my mom some or all of those questions. If I did I’m sure she just smiled and giggled under her breath then did her best to explain.
Interestingly, to this day I know very little about Allspice. I really don’t remember ever having a need to use it in any of my usual recipes. I wish I had been familiar with it when we visited Jamaica and found out about Nutmeg/Mace, since Allspice is also called the Jamaica Pepper or Pimento Berries. I would have asked to see if my friend knew where there might be a Jamaican Bayberry Tree. So that I could learn more about it.
Sadly, I didn’t know about it then and so for this post had to rely on the internet to find out why its called Allspice. Numerous sites related that when early explorers came to the New World and landed in Jamaica they initially mistook Allspice for the black pepper they were looking for. But they were pleasantly surprised that it was reminiscent of other spices they used, namely Cloves, Cinnamon and a bit of nutmeg. For that reason they called it Allspice.
For that reason, also, it is fairly easy to substitute those spices for Allspice.
Amount: 1 teaspoon
Substitute: 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves and a pinch of nutmeg
Other interesting facts.
During the Napoleonic war, Russian Soldiers put allspice in their boots to help keep their feet warm and alleviate odor. (allspice contains eugenol which is both warming and antiseptic. It is even anesthetic in high enough concentrations). From then on it has found its way in to mens’ toiletries, think Old Spice.