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Allspice (pimenta officinalis)
The dried, unripened berry of a form of tropical myrtle. The berries are sometimes known as Jamaica pepper and look like large brown peppercorns.
Allspice was discovered growing in that island in 1494 by Christopher Columbus - hence this name. But later became known as allspice because it seemed to combine the flavours of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. But shouldn't be confused with 'mixed spice' (which is a blended product).
Although they can be bought in powdered form, they are best bought whole and ground as required. It is called allspice because it is thought to have something in its aroma of the clove, cinnamon and nutmeg combined. It is a necessary part of traditional British pickling spice, and excellent when used in marinades for such diverse things as herrings and salt beef.
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