Monthly Archives: November 2014

Pickled Red Onions

This week I am getting to know Allspice, a little more intimately. That’s not hard for me at all because I love this spice and have used it many times, though mostly in blends. I chose a couple of recipes to try that highlight Allspice and let it be the shining star. First up this week is Yucatan Pickled Red Onions.

Allspice Attar Onion.png

Much to my husbands disbelief, I really love onions. Just not every type of onion. Cooked every type of way. Alright, my mom won’t believe that statement either. Since I was young, knowing my issue with onions, she would puree them into her soups or whatever she was cooking to make it more appealing to me. Moms are the best, thank you mom! You see, I love red onions. Vidalia, Walla Walla, Spanish, I just can’t take raw white onions….or even barely cooked. That’s that. I love reds, can only take whites cooked really well. My husband still doesn’t believe me, oh well.

So, this recipe combines the warm, peppery allspice with a few other spices, vinegar, sugar and onions. It is simple, beautiful and utterly delicious. I actually snacked on these onions they taste so good! The night I made them they ended up as a delicious topping on our shredded Chicken Tacos. Don’t however do what my curious son did when he walked into the kitchen and went in for his usual inhale over the cooking pot to catch a whiff of dinner, wowza! That’s vinegar in vapor form straight up the noggin’. He left the kitchen pretty quickly after that one. He did however enjoy the onions later, much to my delight. They are sweet, crunchy and vinegary with a hint of spice. A perfect blend.

onion ing. allspice

Yucatan Pickled Red Onions
(inspired by recipe at

3/4 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
pinch of pink Himalayan salt
1 bay leaf
6 allspice berries
3 whole cloves
2 peppercorns
a few red chile flakes (to your desired heat liking)
1 large red onion, peeled, and thinly sliced into rings

In a small, non-reactive saucepan, heat the vinegar, sugar, salt, seasonings and chile flakes until boiling. Next, add the onion slices and lower heat, simmering gently for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and let onions cool completely. Transfer the onions and the liquid into a jar then refrigerate until ready to use. Delicious on grilled cheese, tuna, hummus, tacos or anything you can come up with….give it a try!


Attar Allspice Whole No Background
Allspice, Pimenta dioica, is the spice that resembles them all. Well, maybe not all, but it has been known to be confused for pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove in a blind sniff-test. It is not surprising as it does have a similar fragrance and overtones of all of these spices. With its deep reddish-brown hue, the allspice berry is a bit larger than a peppercorn. It is the berry of an American Evergreen tree that is picked green and sun-dried for about a week when it turns reddish-brown. Interestingly, it is the only spice that is native to the Western Hemisphere, thanks to its island habitat of Jamaica.

In 1494 when Christopher Columbus was sailing the Atlantic in search of gold and spices in the East Indies, he landed in Jamaica and claimed to have found Pepper. Excited by this huge accomplishment, he later learned that it was not Pepper but Allspice he had found. It was given the name “Allspice” by the British who felt is resembled all spices.

Allspice gets it’s warm and fragrant aroma from the volatile oil, eugenol, as does clove which has made it so well known for it’s numbing qualities. It also has powerful antioxidant properties from its 25 active phenols.

Allspice flavor is pungent and warm with a peppery kick. In cooking, it is most popular as the star ingredient in Jamaican Jerk. In Morocco, it can be found in Tagines, a slow-cooked stew made in a clay pot. It is a key ingredient in the common Mulling Spice blend, Pumpkin Spice blend and in Mexico it is used to spice chocolate as well as a key ingredient in Recado Rojo, a popular ground spice mixture that originated with the Mayans. Allspice is commonly used in pickling, curries and moles. It is used to flavor soups, curries and pastries. What is your favorite way to use Allspice in the kitchen?