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Starting in the 16th century and for the following 200 years Cubeb were a substitute for pepper throughout Europe although they never became as popular as white or black peppercorns. The berries, or fruit, are picked before they are ripe and then dried. When harvested the stalk remains attached hence the frequent reference to 'tailed pepper' or 'comet's tail' for their appearance.
Sophisticated home and professional chefs find Cubebs possess a spectacular flavor intensity and use them for strategic flavoring as they would allspice or cloves. Cubebs have a pleasant aroma that is pungent, lightly peppery with hints of allspice. The flavor is aromatic, pungent with lingering bitter undertones. It is often described as a cross between allspice and pepper. Cubeb berries do possess a bit of heat and are about a 3 on the heat scale of 10.
The stalked berries appear wrinkled and furrowed and they are a little larger than peppercorns. Cubeb berries are usually hollow, but you may sometimes find them containing a single white seed. Just as you would treat pepper you should only grind as much as necessary as the volatile oils quickly lose their aroma and flavor when ground.
Cubeb works well in combination with bay, cardamom, cinnamon, rosemary, sage, thyme and turmeric.