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May 31, 2024 25 mins

This spice is made from tiny fruit that pack a huge wallop of flavor. Anney and Lauren dig into the science and history of allspice. (Correction: The thing in Transformers is the AllSpark. The “AllLife” is a thing that Anney wrote into her D&D campaign. Neither go in a pumpkin pie.)

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Speaker 1 (00:08):
Hello, and welcome to save our protection of iHeartRadio.

Speaker 2 (00:11):
I'm Annie and I'm on Vogelbaum and today we have
an episode for you about all spice.

Speaker 1 (00:17):
Yes, yes, my mind immediately went to since but of
course we are a feat show, and I should have
known what we were talking about. Although it does have
quite an aroma, it does, certainly, Yeah, it does. Was
there any particular reason this was on your mind? Lauren?

Speaker 2 (00:35):
Nope, all right.

Speaker 1 (00:41):
I do have some allspice, and I use it very
I use it pretty frequently, but I use it during
the fall. I'm a I'm a frequent yeah, fall user,
which I'm to understand is a pretty standard thing in
the United States.

Speaker 2 (00:58):
Sure, yeah, in the in the US and UK, i'd
say that is pretty common. Yeah, to use it, Like,
do you use it for savory and speed applications or
more for baked goods.

Speaker 1 (01:07):
I do use it in savory applications, but I would
say I use it more for baked goods.

Speaker 2 (01:12):
Yes, yeah, you know, honestly, I feel like I've been
I've been under utilizing all spice. I think I need
to get in there and do that more.

Speaker 1 (01:21):
You do, Yeah, you got to get in there, Laura
you gotta play the game.

Speaker 2 (01:28):
I need to. I feel like you know this. I
want to point out the scent brand is in fact
Old Spice, not not All Spice. Yes, but yes, but
just your brain just conflated, okay, just saying.

Speaker 1 (01:43):
I mean we must then give credit to their advertising
and or whatever's going on in my brain because that
was the first thing.

Speaker 2 (01:57):
Oh yeah, yeah, I said it and you and you
were like, like the cologne. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (02:03):
Yeah, once again some wires crossed up in my brain.
But it's all right, everything's good. So you can see
our past episodes on spices. Yes, Jamaican jerk, perhaps, Mulby

corned beef, uh huh.

Speaker 2 (02:30):
Also pumpkin pie and gingerbread.

Speaker 1 (02:33):
Sure. Yeah, it shows up in quite quite a lot
of things, which I guess brings us to our question. Yeah, allspice,
what is it?

Speaker 2 (02:47):
Well, all spice is a type of spice that comes
from the dried, unripe fruit of the plant. All spice,
either whole or ground, or sometimes in an oil or
other extract. These are tiny little guys about the size
of a pencil eraser or smaller, dried to a wrinkly
brown black color with a combination of flavors like bitter
and cooling and warm all at once, sort of woody

and minty herbal and like peppery and kind of citrus zingy. Yeah.
Because of that whole spectrum of flavors, all spice lends
itself to both savory and sweet dishes. It can brighten
the savory flavors and like meats and stews and condiments
like ketchup, it can contrast the kind of rich buttery
sweetness and cookies or pumpkin pie, or can compliment the

astringency and kind of bitter sweet herbals and drinks like
tea blends or liqures. It's sort of like a spice
blend contained in a single berry. It's like have you
have you ever been walking through a clearing, maybe a meadow,
or like along a river bank and then turned and
stepped into the woods and it's just thick and hushed

and dim with bark and green and like the spicy
must of the forest floor all around you. Yeah, it's
like eating that.

Speaker 1 (04:09):
Yeah. I love how so many of these sound so fantastical,
but I'm like, I actually have done that.

Speaker 2 (04:17):
Yeah, yeah, Yeah, it's fantastical, like from the inside of
a closet inside your apartment a little bit, but you know, like.

Speaker 1 (04:26):
I've only done it ahead full of time.

Speaker 2 (04:29):
I have done it, I swear some days just like
going outside and like vaguely touching grass, and just like
this is such a magical moment.

Speaker 1 (04:38):
What a time to be alive. Yes, the breeze, breeze
kicks up?

Speaker 2 (04:44):
Oh yeah, yeah, sun, It's so good, so good? Who knew?
Oh my goodness. The allspice plant is a tropical two
subtropical evergreen tree or shrub in the myrtle family. It
can grow fairly large for fruit production. It's often limited
to around twenty feet or under. That's like seven meters
or so, but it can grow to about twice that height.

The leaves are oblong, leathery, and like a glossy green,
real pretty. There are a number of other names for
this plant, such as Jamaican pepper sometimes Jamaica pepper you know,
pimento or pimenta, new spice, and myrtle pepper. And there
are also a few other plant species that are called allspice,

like the Carolina allspice, but they are unrelated. Cannot necessarily
recommend eating them. Didn't look into.

Speaker 1 (05:34):
It, okay, listeners let us know, or will revisit a day.

Speaker 2 (05:41):
There you go, There you go. The allspice tree or
shrub will bloom with these small white flowers during the
spring rainy season, and then if pollinated, will produce fruit
during the summer. That is, the female trees or blossoms
will This is a species that does have specific male
trees and female trees. The fruit are droopes, meaning they

contain a single seed, which is also edible a little
bit more mild and maybe a little bit more bitter.
They're harvested when they are fully developed but still green
and unripe. The berries are droopes. That is, they're left
in piles to ferment for a few days, during which
they'll turn brown and develop different flavors bacteria, and after

that keering, they will be sun dried until they're kind
of brownish black and sort of rattley. Yeah. They can
be packaged and sold whole or ground a hole. They
look sort of like slightly large peppercorns. I do understand
that locally to where they grow best, being Central America
into southern Mexico and parts of the Caribbean. They're also

sometimes eaten, ripe and fresh when they're like fruitier and
sweeter and have turns like a glossy red black. Rather,
there's something like a cross between a black currant or
a blueberry and juniper. One blog I read redland rambles
report that they're like nature's altoids, sweet and surprisingly strong.

Yeah yeah, so y'all write in about that. The leaves
are absolutely used culinarily when they're fresh, steeped into soups
or stews or teas. The leaves and wood are also
used to smoke meat sometimes, and yeah. All spice contains
a bunch of the flavor compound eugenol, which is a

spicy note also found in like clove, nutmegs, cinnamon, basil,
and bay leaf, which is also like a little bit
numbing in the mouth. All spice also contains compounds that
taste bitter, astringent, citrusy, earthy, mint, tea and woody and
so yeah. As a seasoning, it's used in just all
kinds of things, condiments like ketchup and pickles, other pickled

foods like pickled fish and marinades, and spice blends and
sauces for meats or vegetables, especially Jamaican jerk. It also
shows up often in sweet meatballs, corned beef, and certain
kinds of mollet. It shows up in both savory and
sweet dishes, from like rice puloffs to pumpkin pie and gingerbread,
in spice, tea blends and mulling blends in the cours

like benedictine and chartruce, and pimento dram pimento right again
being another word for it. Oil's pressed form men are
also used in the cosmetic and perfume industries. But we
are ostensibly a food show.

Speaker 1 (08:26):
We are, although I must admit now that I have
been saying it out loud, a memory has been unlocked,
and I can't stop thinking about Transformers.

Speaker 2 (08:36):
Oh oh and the all life, Oh, the all life.

Speaker 1 (08:40):
Ah, I can't get I just have too many things
that are connected in their brain. It's a cologne, and
it's Transformers, and it's a spice, it's everything.

Speaker 2 (08:50):
Okay, too many nerd and marketing references just crammed up
in there. Yeah, I get it, true, I get it well.

Speaker 1 (08:57):
Yes, ostensibly a food show. What about out the nutrition?

Speaker 2 (09:02):
You're typically not eating enough of it to make like
a big nutritive difference. It packs a lot of flavor
bang for its caloric buck allspice has been used, that
being said in folk remedies for like forever, and there
have been a number of studies into the science behind
these uses or like potential lack thereof, but savor motto. Yeah,

nutrition is complicated, Our bodies are complicated. Before ingesting a
medicinal dose of anything, you should consult with a healthcare
professional who is not us. No. More research is probably needed,
even today.

Speaker 1 (09:39):
Yes, even today, Well, we have a number for you.

Speaker 2 (09:45):
No, we don't really, y'all peak behind the curtains. I
am coming down with the cold today. If you can
hear it in my voice, that's why. Yeah, And I
couldn't like there were no numbers that grabbed me as
being like, oh man, I really want to report on
that one, Like I want to say that number out

loud into a microphone. That one's going to be fascinating.
So and especially because like okay, so, so it's grown
primarily in Mexico, Jamaica, Guatemala and Honduras. The amounts very
pretty wild, lad you know, like plant pun intended by
growing conditions per season, and those four countries have been

like leapfrogging each other in amounts produced in the money
that they make off of them over the past few decades,
like once every couple of years. China is also in
the game these days.

Speaker 1 (10:38):
Yeah, yeah, we would again always love to hear from
listeners about your experiences with this, if you have any
numbers or just any dishes, because I read a wide
range of things. Oh yeah that all spice pops up
in But yes, I guess that ring us to our

history section.

Speaker 2 (11:02):
It does. But first we have a quick break for
a word from our sponsors, and we're back. Thank you sponsored, Yes,
thank you.

Speaker 1 (11:18):
Okay. So, all spice most likely originated in the Caribbean
and South and Central America, where it was used in
a variety of ways. Indigenous peoples from these areas, like
the Arawak, made use of it. They in particular, seasoned
meat with crushed up all spice. Other sources indicate that
it may have been used in chocolate drinks or even

as an embalming agent in the early Americas. Others indicate
that it was used medicinally for all kinds of things.
Most sources agree that all spice has the longest known
history in Jamaica. Many go as far as to argue
that it originated there and that birds spread it to
nearby places like Cuba. But I couldn't get I couldn't

get too many I couldn't nail down as many things
as I would like with this, I have to say. Yeah,
as the popular narrative goes, when Christopher Columbus, yes, that guy,
arrived in the America's he noticed a resemblance to the
prized black peppercorn in all spice, which was this black peppercorn.

You can see our past episode on that, but this
was a spice Columbus was really searching for.

Speaker 2 (12:28):
Yeah, it was worth a lot, and it you know,
a lot of people couldn't get a hold of it
because there were there was a whole secretive trade around
it at that point. Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 1 (12:39):
And so he and his cohorts we were looking for it,
and they were disappointed to find that it didn't have
quite the same taste and was not in fact the
same thing. Allegedly they called the berry, the Spanish word
for pepper, pamina. Several sources claim that the tree and
berry were first I didied by the Spanish in fifteen

oh nine, which doesn't quite match up to what I
would think. But all right, and a lot of these
sources also say the Spanish appreciated its taste and smell,
even if it wasn't black pepper, corn. Yeah yeah, and
that they would ferment the berries into something alcoholic that

I strongly suspect was happening far earlier than the records
that I could find indicate. But yes, the Spanish believed
that this resulting liquor, beverage whatever was good for your health. Eventually,
due to its flavor profile that resembled a combination of
spices that they did know, Europeans started calling pimenta all spice.

Apparently at the time all spice wasn't that prized in
Europe because they believed they already had access to similar
tasting spices like cloves, black pepper, to a lesser extent,
cinnamon and nutmeg. Further, some protested that it was the
result of enslaved labor and therefore they should avoid it
when other options were.

Speaker 2 (14:11):
Available, although for the most part, none of those other
things were really being produced under good conditions. But sure, yeah, yes, yeah,
make your choices where you can, I suppose, oh yes.

Speaker 1 (14:25):
For example, in newly established America, this was not the
case because the spices that europe could get like cinnamon
and whatever with similar profiles to all spice, were far
more expensive to import, so all spice was a closer,
cheaper alternative. In the seventeen fifty six work Civil and

Natural History of Jamaica, writer Patrick Brown wrote, nothing can
be more delicious than the odor of these pimento walks
when the trees are in bloom, as well as at
the other times. The friction of the leaves and the
small branches, even in a gentle breeze, diffusing a most
fragrant and exhilarating scent. So people were into it. People

like the smell. According to the herb Society Block, the
allspice tree was in danger of extinction during the Victorian era,
when the fragrant, sturdy wood of the tree was preferred
for umbrella handles and walking sticks. Yeah. From eighteen seventy
six to nineteen thirty, thousands of trees were exported specifically

to produce these items. I found a whole paper about it. Yeah,
a lot of research into all spiced again in the
nineteen sixties. They were specifically looking into kind of the
propagation of it, the pests, why some pests didn't go
for it, and also like the male female thing that

was happening when it came to breeding these trees, Yeah,
a lot of research went into it at that time.
And then jumping way ahead, when Hurricane Ivan hit in
two thousand and four, many of the locations impacted by
by that hurricane, that group Mento trees lost a substantial

amount of them, and so there was a lot of
research into to building them back up, building those populations
back up.

Speaker 2 (16:24):
Yeah, it's definitely a tree that is really vulnerable to
storm damage, and so with the increased storm activity that
has come with recent climate change, yeah it is. It's
a concern for a lot of farmers.

Speaker 1 (16:41):
Yeah, yeah, it is. But I would say also along
with that, allspice is one of those things where as
people have gotten some people have got more adventurous. Now
it's the man has grown even further. So it is

something we have to keep an eye on as hurricanes
or storms like that increase. The man is going up
that there. There is a lot of research being done.

Speaker 2 (17:12):
But yeah, yeah, hopefully will Yeah, yeah, more to be done,
but yeah, hopefully that will all prove out and crops
in some other areas that aren't being hit quite as
hard by those conditions will flourish, and the crops in
these conditions will be able to flourish. And yeah, good
fun times.

Speaker 1 (17:32):
Good fun times, that's what good.

Speaker 2 (17:34):
Fun times with research.

Speaker 1 (17:35):
Yeah, yes, yes, But as always, listeners, if you have
any more resources, if you have any recipes, experiences, what
have you with this one, because this one was kind
of hard to find good resources for please contact us.
We would love to hear. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (17:55):
Absolutely, we do already have some listener mail for you,
and we are going to get into that as soon
as we get back from one more quick break for
a word from our sponsors. And we're back Thank you sponsor, Yes,
thank you, and we're backwards.

Speaker 1 (18:16):
We're transformers. More that meets the eye. I honestly did
not even put that together until we had to say
it out loud.

Speaker 2 (18:35):
Now I can't, you can't get it out. Yeah, that's great.
I love that.

Speaker 1 (18:40):
Again, those cultural things stick in the back of your
brain waiting, Randall wrote here in the DC area, ramp
vendors show up this time of year from West Virginia,
tables at the local farmers' markets loaded high with ramps.

After listening to your episode, Nope, never again. I actually
prefer leeks so no great loss for me. A show
you should do is one on dandelions. They are f
and free. I got to my yard and harvest the leaves.
I either served them raw with the Pennsylvania German warm
bacon dressing or in a dandelion kish. My brother in

law used to make wine out of anything that could
be fermented. There are stories dandelion wine was one of
his things. It was okay. Ray Bradbury wrote a book
Dandelion Wine, where he waxed nostalgic about the wine. The
roots are supposed to be quite good, though I have
not tried them yet. Now, Lauren, I have recently made

a big misstep with this, but I believe we have
an episode dandelion.

Speaker 2 (19:50):
We have, Yes, not too well, actually you immediately random,
but yeah, because this episode I just checked came out
in March of twenty twenty one. And yeah, yeah, so
you can see. You're welcome. You can find that one

for all of your dandelion needs. Yeah, all of those
sound delicious. Though a dandelion. I've never personally cooked a dandelion.
I look at it all the time and go like
I should do something with that, and I go boop
and oop and doop boop and like leave. So but
that sounds lovely. All of that sounds really lovely. I

would love to hear more about the fermented dandelion items.
But also, yes, don't feel bad about it. Clearly we
can't even remember what Yeah, no, I do you think
this is interesting about the ramps. I continue to try
to look for them, even though I don't have hope

i'll find them where I am. But I have thought
about maybe I'll just get some leeks and make my
phone self feel like, make myself feel just make myself
feel anything. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I think right, like like
maybe like a like like a leek and maybe a
little bit of sweet onion or something like that might

kind of kind of go together to do the thing.
I'm not sure I've yeah, not positive I've had them.
So here we are. Huh uh. Megan wrote, Hello, Annie
and Lauren. I love the show and have been listening
since the very beginning. I always look forward to hearing
about something new from you too. I recently got a

bit behind and just caught up to your episode about
Hall of It. Imagine my delight to realize this was
a critter I had actually seen in the flesh quite
recently and not on my plate. My partner and I
went to Montreal to see the eclipse in early April.
We also visited the Biodome, a fantastic kind of mini
zoos slash aquarium with simulations of different ecosystems. While we

were admiring the underwater view of the Gulf of Saint
Lawrence Section, I was standing next to a woman who
worriedly pointed out a very flat and, as you observed
in the episode, kind of drpy looking fish that was
lying very still on one of the rocks. She asked
a staff member if it was dead. He explained that
it was a halibit and it was perfectly fine. A
halibit usually hang out on the sea bottom and as

opportunistic hunters often bury themselves in sand and wait for
their prey to swim by. The woman asked, so, why
is it lying on a rock, to which staff member replied, yeah,
we think that one is just not very smart. I
unfortunately didn't get any pictures of this special halibit, but
I've attached a few shots of other cool things we saw,

including sturgeons, penguins, my partner's favorite, and Cababera's my favorite
big grumpy hamsters. There's also one of my fur nephew, Pippin,
who is a three year old Habanese Havenese. Sure, I
don't know, doing a halibut impression on my dining room floor,
and one of him just being very cute. Yeah, you know,

like people, fish come in all kinds of talents and
skill levels.

Speaker 1 (23:18):
Yeah, laying on a rock sounds great to be yeah, right,
the cool bottom of the room.

Speaker 2 (23:31):
Yeah right, come on, that sounds beautiful. Yeah, I.

Speaker 1 (23:38):
Do love that you had. You've got to see a
hawl bit in in I won't say the wild because
that's not quite right, but like yeah, on your plate. Yeah.
But also all these other creatures the pictures were it
sounds like it was a lovely time. Is super cute
Pippen is And I am very curious because that was

my favorite character in the Lord of the Judge Me.
I don't care when I was a kid, if I
don't know if I would feel the same if I
read them now. Okay, I don't know if that's why
you named the dog that, because Pippin is also the
name of the dog that gets killed in Jaws. I'm
going to assume you didn't name him for that dog,
but wow, it's also like an apple.

Speaker 2 (24:25):
For the reasons to name something pippin you you were whoever,
in fact named the dog.

Speaker 1 (24:31):
Yes, yes, indeed indeed, but very cute, very cute indeed.
But I appreciate the name is I guess what the
overall yes it is. Yeah, totally, And I appreciate you
taking the time to send these pictures.

Speaker 2 (24:50):
Yeah, oh my goodness, I think Sam was my favorite character.

Speaker 1 (24:54):
That's a good one. I mean, honestly, like all the
Hobbits were dying up, they were good for me. Yeah,
I'm not entirely sure. I would love to go back
and reread it if I ever have time and see
what I think. Now, I'm not entirely sure.

Speaker 2 (25:08):
Why I wait for but he's sort of the troublemaker.

Speaker 1 (25:12):
Yeah, yeah, Well, thanks to both of those listeners for
writing in. If you would like to write twits, you
can our emails hello at savorpod dot com.

Speaker 2 (25:24):
But we're also on social media. You can find us
on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at saver pod and we
do hope to hear from you. Save is a production
of iHeartRadio. For more podcasts from my Heart Radio. You
can visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you
listen to your favorite shows. Thanks as always to our
superproducers Dylan Fagan and Andrew Howard. Thanks to you for listening,
and we hope that lots more good things are coming

your way.

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