Allspice, also called Jamaica Pepper or Pimento, is the dried unripe fruit of the Pimenta plant. Some people believe it’s a combination of spices, just like curry, but it is just one fruit. Its name was coined by the English because its flavour is like a combination of several aromatic spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
The allspice fruit is picked when it is green and unripe and traditionally dried in the sun. When dry the fruits are brown and look like large brown peppercorns.
Allspice is normally sold as whole dried fruits or ground into powder. The whole fruits have a longer shelf-life than the powdered product and the taste is, of course, more aromatic when freshly ground before use.
Fresh allspice leaves are also used where available: they are similar to bay leaves in their texture and they are infused during cooking and then removed before serving. Unlike bay leaves,allspice leaves lose much flavour when dried and stored which is why they have to be used fresh. The leaves and wood are often used for smoking meats, and allspice can also be found in essential oil form.