I had a recipe that called for cubebs.

I was like “Cool!  I can use one of my period spices!!!”  I was so pumped to do this.  I used my usual 1 tsp per pound rule and the dish was cooked.  Oh my gaaaaawd!  Do NOT use 1 tsp per pound of meat rule of thumb with the cubeb, go with half and then take out another half! So 1/8th to 1/4 tsp per lb. of meat is really all you need.  Really.

To me the Cubeb tastes like a juniper tree and a pepper tree had an unholy night of debauchery to produce the cubeb which they never speak of again.  The taste is bitter and peppery, and to much will numb your tongue, overwhelming the taste buds.  It is a good spice, used quiet a bit in period cooking and healing; however a little goes a very long way.

A little bit of history now that I’ve given you my opinion.  Cubeb is known as Piper cubeba or Java pepper.  What we used in cooking is the small dried pericarp while the seed is hard white and oily.  The cubeb smells amazing just don’t go overboard when using the dried spice.  The main source of cubebs is Java and Sumatra, making this one of the West Indies favored spices.  The cubeb was used in Greek, Roman somewhere in the 2nd century AD,with Middle Eastern cooking in the 10th century and eventually made it’s way to the main European continent up to England some time in the 14th century. (

The history of cubeb is well worth a read and a good spice, if a bit overpowering.





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