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What Exactly Is Allspice?

Dried allspice berries sit next to a glass dish of ground allspice.

When it comes to spices, allspice seems like it’d be the most simple to understand. It’s just all the spices mixed into one, right? Turns out, the allspice name is really misleading.

So what is allspice? It’s actually a simple spice made from a berry. Shocking, right?

Allspice is made from dried berries of the Pimenta dioica tree, native to Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean. The spice gets its name because of its unique flavor resembling a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, but it’s not actually a blend.

The berries of the Pimenta dioica tree are picked when they are ripe, then usually dried in the sun until they turn dark brown. They are then ground into a fine powder or used whole in various dishes.

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Allspice is a versatile spice that is commonly used in both sweet and savory recipes. This spice is also used in a variety of cuisines all across the globe, including the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Middle East. It’s also highly popular in American cooking.

It’s one of the key ingredients used in Jamaican jerk seasoning, and it’s also necessary for many desserts and beverages (like mulled wine and cider). If you think of fall, allspice is often an ingredient necessary for achieving classic fall scents and flavors. In fact, one of America’s most iconic fall flavors — pumpkin spice blend — relies heavily on allspice for its perfection!

If you’re doing a pantry cleanout this year and find an old bottle of allspice from a mulled wine recipe you tried this past fall, maybe knowing its origins and flavor profile will help you put it to good use again.

Abbey Ryan Abbey Ryan
Abbey Ryan is a storyteller, preferably of stories in written form. Across the 5 years of her professional writing career, her work has been featured in The Chicago Tribune, Amazon, The Medical News Today, and more. When she's not writing (which is rare), she's likely traveling, painting, or on the hunt for a good snack. Read Full Bio »
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