Caribbean Jerk seasoning is a hot blend of dry spices of Jamaican origin most commonly used as a meat rub.
I discovered for myself this spice blend and I have been using the DIY homemade jerk spice recipe in various other food dishes to add a Carribean/Jamaican flair to my food!
Since I have been diving deep into the spiced food culture, I have been encountering dishes such as jerk chicken.
This intrigued me so I started to research and I learned that there was something called a jerk rub.
What is Caribbean jerk?
Caribbean jerk is a hot dry or wet spice blend which is used as a meat rub for chicken and pork meat.
Jerk is also the name given to the food preparation style of rubbing the spice blend into the meat.
The spice blend comes from the Caribbeans but has become popular all over the world, and especially in North America and European cities.
Where did jerk originate/What is the story behind Caribbean jerk?
Carribean jerk seasoning comes from Jamaica and is always associated with Jamaica, hence the alternative name “Jamaican spice”
Caribbean food is a rich fusion of flavors and each island and place has its own specialties that developed over the decades and decades.
The history of the Caribbeans islands and the fight for independence for some was painful and long. Many food dishes are still visibly connected to the African slave trade and colonization of foreign empires.
Jamaica was a Spanish colonization up to the point when the British beat the Spanish and took over the island. That was when some of the slaves escaped and found refuge in the mountains of the island.
These former slaves are known as Maroons. Further inland they established their communities and brought along their ancestral knowledge and used that and from what they got from the Spanish. Such as certain spices which were not available up to a certain point on the island.
This is where jerk seasoning as we know it today came from and that is how we can trace back the Jamaican jerk origins.
What is in Caribbean jerk seasoning?
The main ingredients for Caribbean jerk seasoning are common spice which you might have in your pantry right now. Yet there is one particular chili pepper which makes the jerk seasoning what it is.
The hot peppers used in the jerk seasoning are Scotch Bonnets, which are also known as Caribbean red peppers. These Peppers kick a punch and are frequently confused with habanero chili peppers.
However, getting to scotch bonnets outside the Caribbean is not always an easy game except if you grow your own peppers successfully.
So when you plan to make the Caribbean jerk seasoning, try to get scotch bonnets or habanero peppers or otherwise use another spicy hot chili pepper variety.
Different chili peppers change the flavor profile of a jerk seasoning dramatically! That means making your own homemade jerk rub is getting all the more interesting.
The other common spices besides the scotch bonnet peppers used to make this Caribbean jerk seasoning include:
- Allspice seeds (aka Pimento) is another very important spice in the jerk seasoning
- Black Pepper
- Onion Powder
- Garlic Powder
How do you make jerk seasoning?
To make jerk seasoning is actually super easy it just depends if your spices are in a whole or in a powdered version.
Whole spices are always better to create a deeper flavor experience. These whole spices can be dry toasted in a pan to bring out the aroma of each spice. Besides toasting the spices first will make them dry and the spices tend to crush easier that way.
To increase the quality of the spice flavors all the more, you can grind them by hand in a stone mortar with a pestle. A stone mortar has more effect since the spices rub against the mineral-rich stone and that does create a difference in flavor.
This, of course, may sound like extra work but if you can do it the manual way, then just grind your spices by hand. You will feel rewarded with the aroma of the spices while grinding them small and that will make you want to have jerk chicken all the more.
The quickest way to create a jerk seasoning (with less flavor) is a 5 minutes job. Just mix all the dried powdered spices together and you are done.
How to store the homemade DIY jerk seasoning?
You can store the jerk seasoning in airtight containers, in a dry and cool place, away from direct sunlight.
This is important because the jerk seasoning can go bad in a humid tropical climate because chili pepper powder tends to go mold quickly in a humid environment.
If your humidity levels cross 80% in your home (rainy season) then store the jerk seasoning in a jar and in the fridge.
Tools and things you might need for the carribean jerk seasoning recipe:
- Stone Mortar and Pestle
- Beautiful Mini Glass Jar Set for your homemade spice blends
- Hand Blender with small jar grinder attachment, if you don’t want to use Mortar and Pestle
Caribbean Jerk Seasoning Recipe – Jamaican Jerk Spice Rub [DIY] below:
- 1 Teaspoon Red Pepper powder (Scotch Bonnet or Habanero preferably)
- ½ Teaspoon Nutmeg powder
- 1 Teaspoon Allspice Seeds (Pimento) ~dozen seeds
- ½ Teaspoon Black Pepper powder
- 1 Teaspoon Garlic powder
- 2 Teaspoon Onion powder
- 1 Teaspoon Thyme
- ½ Teaspoon Cinnamon Powder
- You have two options to prepare the dry Caribbean jerk seasoning/rub.
- For more Jerk seasoning flavor: use whole spices, toast them on a dry pan until you can smell the spices, let cool and then crush to a fine powder in the mortar or grind with an electric grinder. Mix all the spices together.
- For a quick 5-minute Jerk Seasoning: use ready-made spices in powdered form and mix all the ingredients together.
How to use the Caribbean Jerk Seasoning?
Dear Reader, how are you planning to use the Jerk seasoning/rub?
Please feel free to share with us your thoughts and experience further below in the comment section!
Do you like homemade seasonings? See some more DIY spice and herb blends to make at home!