Have 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.