What is allspice made of?

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What is allspice made of?
Allspice is used in both sweet and savoury cooking. (bottles of ground cinnamon & allspice. oregano image by L. Shat from Fotolia.com)

The name "allspice" has created the common misconception that allspice is a combination of other spices. In reality, allspice is made of only one spice, the dried berry of the Jamaican pimento tree.

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Name

Allspice got its name from its complex flavour, which tastes like a mixture of spices such as cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper. It's also known as Jamaican pepper, baharat and pimento; the latter term comes from the fact that Spaniards mistook it for black pepper.

Appearance

Dried allspice berries are 1/8 to 1/4 inch in diameter and have hard, wrinkled, brown skins. They resemble brown peppercorns. You can also find allspice in its ground form, a fine brown powder.

Uses

Allspice is a component of both sweet and savoury dishes. It's an important part of Jamaican jerk spice mixtures, a common part of pickling liquid or brine in European food, and a component of cakes and other desserts.

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