By Harold McGee
Allspice is the brown, mediumsized dried berry of a tree of the New World tropics. Pimenta dioica is a member of the myrtle family and a relative of the clove. Allspice took on its modern name in the 17th century because it was thought to combine the aromas of several spices, and today it’s often described as tasting like a mellow combination of clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg. It is indeed rich in clove’s eugenol and related phenolic volatiles, with fresh, sweet, and woody notes (but no cinnamon volatiles). The main producer is Jamaica. The berries are picked when green and at the height of flavor, briefly fermented in heaps,”sweated” in bags to accelerate their drying and browning, then sun-dried for five to six days (or machine-dried). Allspice finds notable use in pickling fish, meats, and vegetables, as well as in pie seasonings.