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Allspice is the dried fruit of the Pimenta dioica plant. The fruits are picked when green and unripe and are traditionally dried in the sun. When dry they are brown and resemble large, smooth peppercorns. Fresh leaves are similar in texture to bay leaves and similarly used in cooking.
Allspice is one of the most important ingredients of Caribbean cuisine. Under the name ‘pimento’, it is used in Jamaican jerk seasoning, though in principle the wood is used to smoke jerk in Jamaica. In the West Indies, an allspice liqueur is produced under the name “pimento dram”.
At the time allspice was encountered by Christopher Columbus during his second voyage to the New World, it was found only on the island of Jamaica, where the plant was readily spread by birds. Allspice was introduced into European and Mediterranean cuisines in the 16th century. To protect the pimento trade, Jamaican growers guarded against export of the plant. The Spice is still highly regulated by The Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority.