What are Jamaican Peppercorns?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2019
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Grown in tropical locations, the Jamaican peppercorn is more commonly known as allspice. As such, Jamaican peppercorns rank among one of the most popular spices in the world. While referred to as a peppercorn, the actual size of Jamaican peppercorns is much larger than the usual black peppercorns. Typical examples of Jamaican peppercorns are usually the size of a soybean, and have a light brown hue to the outer shell.

While it is possible to purchase whole Jamaican peppercorns, it is more common to find the spice ground and sold in powdered form. The taste for the peppercorns has been described as being a rich combination of cloves, ginger, black pepper, nutmeg, and cinnamon. This makes Jamaica peppercorns an ideal spice for a number of applications, ranging from baking to seasoning entrees and even for some pickling recipes.


When it comes to baking, ground Jamaican peppercorns is a welcome addition to a number of cakes and pies. In particular, the spice adds punch to pumpkin breads and pies. Sweet potato dishes also benefit from the addition of Jamaican peppercorns as well. Along with baked sweets, Jamaican peppercorns also work very well with the preparation of hams for the holidays. The combination of flavors that are found with both the whole peppercorns and the ground allspice help to mingle with the juices of the ham to create a tasty glaze. Beef roasts also benefit from the presence of the peppercorns as part of the baking process.

Many different types of dishes can be enhanced with the addition of ground Jamaican peppercorns. For instance, deviled eggs gain additional visual appeal as well as taste when sprinkled with the spice. Chicken salad can also be taken to a new level with a small amount worked into the mixture. The use of Jamaican peppercorns in a glaze for a yellow or spice cake can be a welcome addition. Adding a touch of the spice to a vinaigrette dressing will also help to liven up a spinach salad or any combination of raw greens.

Sauces and seasonings also make good use of Jamaican peppercorns as well. Condiments such as ketchup often employ the spice. Many recipes for gravies and sauces also rely on the addition of Jamaican peppercorns to the mix. This is true for hot sauces as well as condiments and gravies that can be served cold. Not surprisingly, Jamaican peppercorns are an important part of Caribbean cuisine. Often used as a jerk seasoning, the spice enhances the flavor of many different types of meat-based dishes, as well as providing some extra flavor for various types of curries.


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