Jamaican Ingredients: Pimento

When you’re not from the Caribbean and someone says pimento you’ll probably think of the red pepper stuffed in a cocktail olive. However, for Jamaicans pimento is what we call allspice. I don’t know why, but I tend to call the dried berries (which look similar to peppercorns) Pimento, and the ground spice Allspice. Well, they’re one and the same.
Pimento is one of the most important ingredients of Caribbean cuisine. You’ll come across it as an ingredient in several of my recipes, both savory and sweet. And, not only is it is used in jerk seasoning, the wood of the pimento tree is used to smoke jerk meats. (Check out my story about  my visit to Scotchies where they use pimento wood in their jerk cooking.) 
I love the aromatic flavour of pimento in baked goods like Easter Spice Bun. And, like most  Jamaicans, I’m known to throw at least a teaspoon of pimento berries into the pot when I’m making my cornmeal porridge.
Now when you see “Pimento” in one of my ingredient lists you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. I suggest that the next time you see pimento/allspice berries in the store, make sure to pick some up. You’re going to need them if you plan to Cook Like a Jamaican!

Ingredient of the Weekpimento
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  • Tiziana

    I’m Italian, but my mom is German. In Italy we call this spice pimento, but we never use it, while in Germany they use pimento to prepare many different cakes and biscuits. I adore it and I adore Jamaican recipes too, but I cook them rarely because my boyfriend is Mauritian, so we cook more Indian recipes.
    Thank you for sharing your recipes.

  • Bob

    When I was in Jamaica they use the juice from the pimento berry as part of the marinade for the meat, I would like to know if you can by the unripen berry before turns in to allspice. If not do i use pimento oil or what do I use to substitute for the jucie… any help would be greatly appreicated….

    • Fay & Angela

      Hi Bob,
      That’s a good question, however I don’t use pimento juice in my recipe. Many people have their own secret or twist and this sounds like one, however, using dried pimento will give you a great authentic flavour none the less. Blessings, Fay

    • Margaret

      What are the ingredients in Pimento? Is there any nuts in it?

      • Fay & Angela

        Hi Margaret,
        Pimento is the dried seed from the pimento tree. It is also called allspice which can confuse people. Pimento/allspice is a spice with no other ingredients.
        Hope that helps, F&A