Jamaican cuisine is known for its unique and delicious flavours, which is all due to the herbs and spices we use in our cooking.
In Jamaica we use a lot of different herbs and spices in our cooking. Most of which are natural herbs and spices that grow locally.
As you come to learn about the way we cook, you will noticed that there are a few of these herbs and spices that is used in almost every dish.
Here are the top five most used herbs and spices in Jamaican cooking.
1. Pimento (Allspice)
You may know it as allspice but for us it is pimento, which is indigenous to the West Indies. Old records have shown that pimento (allspice) was first discovered on the island of Jamaica.
Trees grow widely throughout the island and Jamaica supplies majority of the world pimento (allspice).
The ripe berries can be eaten raw but because if its tangy taste is not consumed raw. The ripe berries is commonly use to make wine and other beverages that is use to remedy cold and flu.
The dried unripe pimento berry is used extensively in most of your favourite Jamaican cuisines.
The dry pimento berry is also called allspice. This is because the berry contain characteristic flavour and aroma of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper.
2. Scotch bonnet pepper
The scotch bonnet pepper, who doesn’t know or haven’t heard of scotch bonnet pepper? This bad ass pepper is famous for its heat.
The scotch bonnet pepper is said to be one of the hottest pepper in the word. Measuring a wapping 100,000 – 300,000 Scoville Heat Unit (SHU). That’s approximately 292,000 times hotter than a jalapeño, which measure 4000-8000 SHU.
Apart from the heat, scotch bonnet pepper also have an unique sweet fruity flavour and aroma, which contributes to the great taste and smell of Jamaican cuisines.
Jerk chicken, peppered shrimp and escoveitch fish uses a lot of scotch bonnet pepper. These dishes are usually very spicy but also very addictive.
There are different spices of scotch bonnet pepper with different colours, shapes and sizes.
3. Jamaican Ginger
Compare to ginger grown in other parts of the world, the ginger grown in Jamaica is more pungent and aromatic making it one of the best quality ginger in the world’s market.
The strong flavour of the Jamaican ginger have made Jamaican ginger cake, ginger biscuit and ginger beer very popular products worldwide.
Jamaican ginger is also used to make tea as a remedy to relief stomach and headache and cold and flu.
Jamaican Escallion (scallion), pronounced ‘skallion’ in Jamaica, is known to grown only in Jamaica and the West Indies.
Scallion looks similar to spring/green onion except it has a reddish outer skin, which bears a resemblance to the red onion. According to foodies, the escallion have a stronger flavour than the green onion.
The escallion is used in almost every Jamaican cooking, no meat is marinated without it and soup wouldn’t taste the same.
Escallion and thyme flavours compliments each other and are often used together in most Jamaican cuisines.
In Jamaica, there are over 100 varieties of thyme that is grown on the island. The most common type to use when cooking Jamaican dishes is the garden thyme.
Thyme is used a lot to seasoning meat, poultry and fish. Thyme is so versatile, you can place it in all most anything dish you are cooking.
We use it some much I can think off the top og my head, a dish that doesn’t have thyme in it.