The dried berry of a Caribbean tree

Allspice is the dried berry of a kind of myrtle tree native to Jamaica, and now grown throughout the Caribbean and parts of Central and South America.

It's flavour is highly aromatic, and is often described as a mixture between cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, pepper, and other similar spices - indeed, many people still wrongly think that allspice powder is a blend of spices, like a curry powder.

You can buy either the whole dried berries, which resemble large smooth peppercorns to look at, or ready ground to a powder. As with virtually all spices, the powder will quickly lose its freshness and flavour, and so buying whole berries for home grinding is preferred.

It has a wide range of uses, from stews and marinades to puddings, and is also a common addition to pickles and chutneys. It is also the principle ingredient of the West Indian 'jerk' seasoning.

Alternative names for allspice include baharat, Jamaican pepper, and pimento.

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