names: English spice; Jamaican pepper; Pimenta
is the dried berry of an evergreen tree, native to West Indies and
tropical Central America. The name 'allspice' is derived from the
fact that it tastes like a blend of cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. Allspice
is a semi-wild crop in Jamaica and the nearby islands. The Mayan Indians
used it to embalm their dead and departed, long before the Spaniards
arrived in the West Indies. Early Spanish explorers discovered allspice
and because of its similarity to black pepper corns called it pimentia
(pepper in Spanish). The first record of its import to Europe is in
1601. Allspice was much more popular in the early 20th century than
it is today. It was introduced into India quite recently. It is cultivated
in certain isolated pockets of Kerala, Karnataka, West Bengal, Bihar
and Orissa.Commercial cultivation is not popular in India.
plant, of the myrtle family, grows about 9-12 m tall with erect trunk,
bark gray; much branched, round topped and foliage dense. Leaves opposite,
oval-oblong to elliptical, entire, leathery, glandular-pinnetate on
lower surface; 12-20 cm in length, deep green and lustrous. Flowers
are borne on racemose cymes, small, white to greenish-white, each
flower having four tiny petals, a single style with one ovary, two
ovules and a cluster of anthers. As the flower opens, the style straightens,
and although the stigma is raised above the anthers, the flower appears
to be hermaphrodite. Berries are globular 4-7mm in diameter, hard
with rough surface and a reddish brown colour. Pericarp woody, brittle
and around 1mm in thickness. The berry has two locules separated by
a thin partition. Each locule contains a single, reniform, hard and
dark brown seed.
is propagated through seeds, which are collected from fruits of high
yielding trees. Fruits are soaked overnight in water, rubbed and seeds
are extracted. The seeds are sown in nursery beds, pots or basins.
To enhance germination, the beds are mulched with dried leaves, straw,
paper or gunny bags. Seeds germinate by 9-15 days. Allspice can be
propagated vegetatively by grafting, budding, approach grafting and
Tissue culture methods are also employed for their propagation. Six
to ten -months old seedlings are ideal for field planting. They are
planted at a spacing of 6m x 6m or even closer. Three seedlings are
planted inn a single hole of 60cm3 size. The female and male plant
ratio in a garden should be 8:1 to ensure good pollination. Shade
and regular irrigation should be provided at young stage of the plants.
Manuring, weeding and mulching should be undertaken at regular intervals.
Necessary plant protection measures should be adopted if incidence
of tea mosquito (Heliopeltis antonii), leaf spot caused by Cylindrocladium
quinqueseptatum or leaf rot by Pestalotiopsis are noticed.
fruits are picked 3-4 months of flowering, before they are fully ripe.
The berries are spread out in the sun and dried for 3-12 days. During
drying, the berries turn from green to a dull reddish brown. Dried
berries give crisp rattling sound when shake. The berries are stored
after cleaning them by winnowing. ASTA suggested a maximum of 12%
moisture, 5% ash and 1% acid insoluble ash in whole berries of allspice.
contains essential oils (2.5-4.5%) in both leaf and berry. The primary
constituents of the berry volatiles are eugenol (60-75%), eugenol
methyl ether, cineole, phellandrene and caryophyllene. However, the
leaf oil has a different flavour profile eventhough the principal
component is eugenol. The level of volatile oils can vary depending
on their origin, weather, and harvest and processing conditions.
is used in a variety of foods as a condiment, as a flavouring ingredient
in bakery items, in processed meat industry and also in pickling.
It is widely used in European cooking as an ingredient in sweet recipes
and festive baking. The ground or whole spice is used in preserves
and chutneys. It is a flavour contributor to liquors and a perfume
ingredient in soaps. In Jamaica, a local drink, known as Jamaica dram,
is made from allspice and rum. The whole berries are a popular ingredient
for mulled wine. Allspice is extensively used in the fishing industry
in Scandinavia on account of its preservative properties.
and Other use
is an aromatic stimulant and a carminative. Pimento water, pimento
oil or powdered allspice are useful against indigestion or gas. Taken
with laxatives, the oil reduces the chances to cramp. It also makes
a good addition for less appetizing medicines. The oil from berries
and the leaves are used in antiseptics and medicines for flatulence.
Allspice makes an invigorating plaster for rheumatism and neuralgia.
The bark and leaves contain tannin and can be used for tanning purposes.
The wood which is very firm and hard with close texture, smooth surface
and dark to light salmon colour is used for making walking sticks
and umbrellas. The eugenol in allspice berry and leaf oils has got
bacteriocidal, fungicidal and nematicidal properties. Moreover, it
is a good antioxidant too. The oil is also used in perfumes.