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Allspice, also called Jamaica pepper, Kurundu, Myrtle pepper, or newspice, is a spice which is the dried unripe fruit of the Pimenta dioica plant. The name "allspice" was coined by the English, who thought it combined the flavour of several aromatic spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
Allspice is most commonly sold as whole dried berries or as a powder. The whole berries have a longer shelf-life than the powdered product and produce a more aromatic product when freshly ground just before use. Fresh leaves are also used where available; they are similar in texture to bay leaves and are thus put into the dish during cooking to infuse and then removed before serving. Unlike bay leaves, they lose a lot of flavour when dried and stored. The leaves and wood are often used for smoking meats where allspice is a local crop. Allspice can also be found in essential oil form.
Allspice is one of the most important ingredients of Caribbean cuisine. It is used in jerk seasoning (the wood is used to smoke jerk in Jamaica, although the spice is a good substitute), in mole sauces, and in pickling; it is also an ingredient in commercial sausage preparations and curry powders. Allspice is also indispensable in Middle Eastern cuisine, particularly in the Levant where it is used to flavour a variety of stews and meat dishes. In Palestinian cuisine, for example, many main dishes call for allspice as the sole spice added for flavouring. In America, it is used mostly in desserts, but it's also responsible for giving Cincinnati-style chili its distinctive aroma and flavour as well. Allspice is commonly used in Great Britain and appears in many dishes, including cakes. Allspice is also a main flavour used in barbecue sauces.
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