Pimento Grain

the recipes of a nomadic Jamaican

Comparison of US-Based Pimento Wood Suppliers

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Sweet wood from both vendors - PW's in bundle and PWP's laid flat

Sweet wood from both vendors – PW’s in bundle and PWP’s laid flat

Jerk is one of the most distinctively Jamaican flavours, and every learned connoisseur will agree that jerk chicken (or pork) is incomplete without the finishing touch of pimento wood. Pimento wood is obtained from the allspice tree – an evergreen shrub brimming with essential oils – that is found in few places outside of my homeland Jamaica. The closest substitute is the bay rum tree (not to be confused with the bay laurel tree). The logs from the bay rum plant have been dubbed ‘sweet wood’. Neither plant will survive outside of tropical or the warmest subtropical climes, and even in places where it does grow, there isn’t enough produced for the purpose of logs, so this is one of the most exotic smoking woods on the market.

Diametrical comparison

Sweet Wood diametrical comparison

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Pimento Wood’s burlap bag of chips

PWP's sack of chips

PWP’s sack of chips

 

There are two suppliers here in the United States – PimentoWood.com that has been supplying the US market since 2006 and their emerging competitor PimentoWoodProducts.com. They are both relatively expensive options but the only realistic avenue for jerkers in this country. I did find a few vendors who would ship from Jamaica but it is very likely that your wood will be confiscated by US customs if you try to import directly without a special license. Another Jamaican vendor will only sell by the container load and that isn’t an undertaking that I, a mere home cook, find appealing. So to help those of you who are longing for an authentic taste of Jamaica, I have prepared a table (pun intended) with my observations from a year of ordering from both vendors. The measurements are from the most recent (identical) order I placed with both. Neither vendor has a consistent supply so my decision is always up to which of them has wood, chips or leaves, whichever I have a need for, in stock. 

Pimento Wood Diametrical Comparison

Pimento Wood Diametrical Comparison

 PimentoWood.comPimentoWoodProducts.com
Pimento Wood Sticks
Price (four sticks)$39.95$32.00
Average Diameter1.75"0.8"
Average Length17.5"12"
Sweet Wood Sticks
Price (four sticks)$29.95$27.00
Average Diameter1.25"0.75"
Average Length18"12"
Pimento Leaves
Price (per oz)$14.95$13.95
Pimento Chips
Price (two lbs)$24.95$21.00
Consistencyshort chunksthin flakes
Pimento Chunks
Price (per lb)$12.95Does not sell
Shipping
Time5 days3 days
Expedited Shipping Available upon CheckoutYesNo
The wood chips. PW's are larger than PWP's but size doesn't matter, in my opinion.

The wood chips. PW’s are larger than PWP’s but size doesn’t matter that much with chips, in my opinion.

Personal Opinions

PimentoWoodProducts.com – To be fair to pimentowoodproducts.com, I have received slightly larger sticks from them in the past. The sweetwood sticks that I got in this shipment were listed as unavailable on the website so I called to inquire whether they could delay until they had more available, I agreed to buy the sticks they found in storage and was billed a higher price than usual for them. The pimento sticks were shown as in stock and purchased directly from the website. I appreciate the swiftness with which they ship an order. Their customer service, however, is generally poor. When I find fault with a shipment and contact them, their standard response is along the lines of “that’s the way it is” or “that’s the way you really want it”.  One time their agent went out of his way to make me a diagram on how to use the sticks that I complained about having irregular curvature. The size of their sticks means they cannot be reused as many times as the larger sticks of their competitor. Their leaves also seem fresher, which means fewer leaves per oz than their competitor. 

Pimento Wood Comparison

Pimento Wood Comparison

PimentoWood.com – This vendor sells far more products than I have listed in the table, but I have not included information on anything I haven’t personally ordered and used. I had one experience where I placed an order and received no information after two weeks, it turns out they were out of stock and the owner was in Jamaica procuring more wood. They made it right by giving me a refund and a 30% discount on a future purchase. Shipping isn’t usually very swift but the product is consistent in size and quality, nicely packaged and appears to be from more mature plants. I know I am getting value for money, and when the product arrives it is always what I expected.  I feel like, even though I pay more and wait longer, I am getting ‘brawta’.

Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below. Happy Jerking!

Update: Pimento Wood Products sent me a free replacement of the pimento wood sticks three weeks after my original order.

Comments

comments

3 Comments

  1. THANK YOU for a fair and honest review. It has Been a disappointing and ongoing struggle for us regarding this imposter company Pimento Wood Products. They chose a name almost identical to ours, and were illegally using our photographs, copy and recipes on their web site until we involved lawyers. We consistently get calls from irate consumers thinking they ordered from Pimento Wood when they accidentally ordered inferior product from this substandard company.

    There is a reason Pimento Wood has a ten plus year success rate, Our company is built on ethics and integrity, with clients worldwide that include International Culinary Schools, James Beard Award winning chefs and restaurants, Food Network, Steven Raichlen’s Project Smoke and thousands more.

    We reinvest in the country of Jamaica and whole heartedly respect the culture, land and the products the pimento wood tree provides all of us. This is not just a business for us, it’s our life and we are so very grateful to have this opportunity to provide the world with the ability to make authentic Jamaican cuisine!

    Best,

    Jodi Schoenauer

    • Karee

      January 18, 2016 at 4:47 pm

      Thanks for your response. I was also initially confused by the name. What are some of the ways in which you invest in Jamaica? I’m learning that the pimento crop isn’t as strong as it used to be, and the agricultural agencies are seeking people to plant the ‘male’ trees for leaves and branches for BBQ, leaving the ‘female’ trees for berry production. Any thoughts on this?

  2. Karee I JUST saw your question- months later!!!!! Call me I’d love to discuss!! 612-669-3676 I will research the question you posed but I had not heard that there are any issues with the pimento wood crop, only the export of charcoal. That is a long and complicated story I can fill you in.

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