Allspice is the dried, unripe berry (fruit) of Pimenta dioica, the Jamaican allspice tree. They pretty much resemble large peppercorns, although with a smooth husk, leaning towards a dark brown hue.
The berries are said to have been so named in the 17th century by the British because its flavour and aroma is reminiscent of so many spices bound into one: cinnamon, cloves, pepper and nutmeg.
It is an essential inngredient in Caribbean as well as Middle Eastern cooking. In the UK, we use it for both savoury and sweet recipes, anything that uses mixed spice will do well with allspice in it. For eg, the Christmas Pudding and Mulled Wine.
And I also love to add it to the Ethiopian Spice mix, Berbere, as it gives me hints of all the above spices mentioned with just a few of these berries!
Allspice (Jamaican Pepper, Pimenta)