Sweet Leaf

Finding Beauty through Baking ~by Susan Baxter-Peace

How many Spices in Allspice? One! February 25, 2013

allspiceHave you ever wondered what goes into allspice? You could probably smell and taste it for ages trying to figure out just what combination of spices are used; and that is because it isn’t a combination at all. Allspice is its own spice, coming from a plant common in Central America, and it was given the name ‘allspice’ because it seems like a blend of several different spices.

I learned this for the first time when my husband and I were in Belize. We had a great tour guide who pointed out an allspice tree to us, and gave us a leaf to try. It had quite a kick!

I recently went to our local bulk store to restock my allspice and noticed two bins: ground allspice and whole allspice. From my firsthand experience with the allspice leaf, I had assumed that ground allspice was dried leaves that had been powdered. I looked it up when I got home, and discovered that allspice is actually the small dried fruits of the tree. The leaves can be used for infusing things – similarly to how bay leaves are used – but are apparently only good to use fresh; the leaves lose a lot of their flavor once dried.

I’ve noticed that most of the recipes I use stick with the standard cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg combinations; very few common recipes seem to call for allspice. However, I will often add it in as a bonus because it has such a unique flavor. Try adding it the next time you make a banana bread, oatmeal cookies, carrot cake, or chocolate cake! I bet you’ll be pleased with the interesting twist it gives!

You can read more about allspice on its Wikipedia page.

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