Friday, February 17, 2012

Allspice (whole berry or ground) - Margaret Ullrich

A spice for all seasonings!

Just so you know... allspice is not a blend.
It's a fruit.
Just like a berry.

In 1493 Christopher Columbus discovered allspice in the West Indies.
It's the berry of the West Indian tree Pimenta dioica of the myrtle family.
Lucky for us.

It looks like a dark peppercorn.
It has a mildly pungent flavor.
And it goes with just about everything.

Whole allspice is a handy thing to have...
  Add 2 or 3 to the peppercorns in your peppermill for extra flavor.
  Drop 1 or 2 along with a strip of orange peel to hot tea.
  Add 6, more or less, to the pot when making soup stock.

The addition of a few allspice berries will give a flavor boost to pickling liquids, marinades, meat gravies and poaching liquid for fish.

Speaking of pickling...
If you don't want to buy bags of spices, buy a bag of pickling spices.
A few favorites are in there, including allspice.
So, if you want to have an assortment of spices, get pickled.

If you've bought a bag of whole allspice, you can have the best of both worlds.
As explained earlier, allspice can be ground in a pepper mill (or blender) 
or bruised by crushing in a pestle to release the flavor.

And the joys of ground allspice...
  Add a pinch to cherry pie filling.
  Stir into creamed or buttered spinach.
  Add to tomato sauces.
  Add to chocolate cake and puddings, as well as hot chocolate.
  Add to other baked goods, especially fruit cakes, pies and puddings.
  Sprinkle on beets, squash or other yellow vegetables.
  Add a dash to chili or tomato sauce, and to green tomato pickles.
  Allspice complements the flavor of lamb and adds a flavor touch to meat casseroles.

Allspice is quite assertive, so use it cautiously.
But do use it!

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