Pimento Grain

the recipes of a nomadic Jamaican

Category: Pork

Comparison of US-Based Pimento Wood Suppliers

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.

Skin-on Pork Loin Roast

crispy crackling falling off tender, juicy pork

crispy crackling falling off tender, juicy pork

Yesterday I labored in the kitchen at the basic country loaf from Chad Robertson’s Tartine bread, and at the end of the night when I finally put my loaves in the fridge to slowly ferment, I decided that good bread warranted delicious meat so, as if I wasn’t tired enough, I spent another hour scoring and seasoning this skin-on loin roast.  The result was definitely worth it: a superlative sandwich of extraordinary bread topped with succulent meat and fresh greens. Below is my method for the pork roast but if you want to dabble intrusion bread making, you can order Chad’s book here. Do not Google his recipe as none of the online reproductions come close to the depth of the descriptions and images in the book itself.

My beautiful loaf of Tartine country bread

My beautiful loaf of Tartine country bread

Fresh bread, homemade apple butter, delicious pork and a few green spinach leaves to absolve my conscience

Fresh bread, homemade apple butter, delicious pork and a few green spinach leaves to absolve me

1. With a sharp knife, score in a criss-cross pattern

1 3lb skin-on pork loin

2. Season pork skin between scores with

salt and pepper to taste

3. Brush pork skin with

a little oil

4. Season meat, except skin, with a finely ground blend of

1 tsp grated lemon zest

1 Tbsp sea salt

3 cloves garlic

1 Tbsp fennel pollen or fennel seed (or a blend of both)

1 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves

1 Tbsp fresh parsley

2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

1 tsp freshly ground peppercorn 

5. Refrigerate the roast at least four hours, uncovered, on the bottom shelf of your fridge

6. Let the roast sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking

7. Preheat oven to 475°F and cook roast for 40 minutes, then lower temperature to 400°F and cook until thermometer reads 155°F, about another 40 minutes.

8. Allow the roast to rest for 30 minutes before carving with a serrated knife.

A mouse got away with a couple crackling squares

A two-legged mouse got away with a few crackling squares

Enjoy!

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