Dear Heloise: My roommate and I got into a discussion about allspice. She said that it is a mixture of spices, and I'm sure it isn't. I told her I was going to ask you to set it straight. Help! -- Brooke and Bailey, Philadelphia
Well, we took your question to a leading spice manufacturer, and here is what it had to say:
Allspice is a pure product, not a blend of spices. It has a flavor similar to cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. This is why your roommate probably thinks it is a blend. So, in a way she is correct. Allspice is actually the dried, unripened fruit of a small evergreen tree. It is grown in Jamaica, Guatemala, Honduras, the Leeward Islands and Mexico.
It is commonly used in preserves, cakes, pies, cookies, relishes, meats, gravies, pickling and ketchup.
Shelf life: Three years for the ground spice, four years for the whole spice. -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: When my children were still at home, many times breakfast would be instant oatmeal. It came in individual packages; it seemed the banana flavor was always left and the strawberry was always gone first.
I solved this by saving a plastic container that cookies come in. I opened all the little packages and put them in the container.
I had extra measuring cups, so I took the 1/2-cup measure and put it in the container, too. Guess what? Everything gets eaten. -- Joanne Derby, Divide, Colo.
Dear Heloise: After 35 1/2 years of cooking, I accidentally stumbled on this one night while fixing baked fish fillets with lemon, salt and pepper.
On light-colored meat like fish, chicken, pork, etc., you can't see how much salt you are putting on if you sprinkle it first.
So, I tried the pepper first, then the salt. It worked. Because the pepper gave a contrasting background, you could see how much salt you were sprinkling. -- Linda Phillips, Monroe, La.
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