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The Caribbean cuisine is full of bold flavors and lots of diversity, but there are several seasonings and spices that are critical to have in your kitchen if you are planning a Caribbean meal…
Grown in the Caribbean, particularly in Grenada, Nutmeg is a pantry staple that is used for beverages such as rum punch and other alcoholic drinks. Freshly grated nutmeg is used to flavor sauces and other savory dishes.
Fresh ginger root is a must-have staple and is used in cooking rice dishes and vegetable dishes and also on meats.
Cinnamon is used throughout the islands for desserts and drinks but also as part of curries and jerks, and vegetable and meat dishes. It is a critical component of many Caribbean dishes.
Most popular in Jamaica, it is a key ingredient to many savory and sweet dishes and an integral ingredient in Jerk. Allspice is so called because the flavor and aroma have notes of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Allspice can be used for flavoring marinades, sauces, soups, stews, pickles, chocolate, fruit salads and making a spiced hot tea.
Jerk Seaosning is most well known as a product of Jamaica, although it used throughout the Caribbean. It is usually a dry or wet rub or marinade that is used to season meats and barbecued. It is characterized by the use of Allspice, Thyme and Scotch Bonnet Peppers. To lively up your next barbecue, try out some Lively Up Lime Jerk Seasoning
East Indian workers arrived in the Caribbean as indentured servants in the 1800s. They made curry an essential part of West Indian cuisine. Curry is especially popular in the English speaking islands, but also has a counterpart, known as Colombo, on the French speaking islands. Caribbean curries often use a blend of coriander, pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric and ginger.
Achiote (or Annatto) is native to the tropical areas of the Americas including the Caribbean and Mexico, and was used by native indians as a culinary spice, dye for clothing and as medicine. It is still popular today; in the Spanish speaking Caribbean islands it’s used to make yellow rice and sometimes added to sofrito. In the French Caribbean it’s used to make blaff recipes. Achiote powder mixed with other spices and herbs can be turned into a paste to marinate and give a smoky flavor to meats, fish and poultry. A popular product made with ground achiote is sázon. Achiote seeds can also be infused into oil and then used to cook with.