Nutmeg Spice – Myristicaceae fragrans
The nutmeg tree is an evergreen that grows in tropical climates. Indonesia has a large production of nutmeg and mace. Grenada is also among the world’s largest producers of nutmeg.
Grenada’s earlier name was “Isle of Spice”. Grenada has the symbol of a nutmeg clove in the flag.
The tree will bear fruit after about 6 years and will continue to bear fruit for 50 years or so.
The trees can live to be a hundred years old and grow 10-20 m (30 – 70 ft.) tall.
The trees are either male or female. Only the female trees bear fruit when fertilized by the male trees.
A nutmeg tree can produce around 2000 fruits a year.
The yellow fruits resemble apricots. Inside the fruit we find the stone.
The stone is wrapped in the mace.
The mace is the orange-red aril surrounding the stone.
The mace is carefully peeled off and set to dry. The mace turns yellow when it is dry. The dried mace is sliced or grounded and used as a culinary spice.
Mace as a spice is often used much the same as nutmeg, though it is not as spicy as nutmeg.
The stone is dried for a few weeks.
When the kernel starts to rattle inside the stone it is ready and broken open. The kernel inside the stone is what is known as nutmeg. The nutmeg is then dipped in lime to protect it from insect attacks.
Nutmeg Spice Uses
When cooking it is preferable to grate the amount of spice needed from a whole nutmeg. If you buy powdered nutmeg spice only buy small amounts as it will quickly lose its flavor.
Nutmeg is a good spice to use in meat dishes, puddings, drinks and sauces. It is also used in baking.
The delicious béchamel sauce is sometimes spiced with nutmeg or mace. This is the white sauce used in lasagna.
Nutmeg spice goes well with spinach and mushrooms. Nutmeg can be used in drinks, often sprinkled on top. The popular eggnog drink is spiced with nutmeg.
Mace is a better choice to season fish and clear soups.
Nutmeg is also used in some perfumes and incense.
Nutmeg (in small doses) is said to be a good remedy for insomnia, it is calming and helps you sleep well.
Nutmeg is known to strengthen the heart.
Nutmeg is also improves digestion and promotes appetite.
Warning: You should never consume more than 3 g (about a teaspoon) daily.
Normal use of nutmeg as a spice in cooking is safe to use and should be enjoyed.
Consuming large amounts of nutmeg is very dangerous.
Large amounts of nutmeg will result in vomiting, dizziness and strong hallucinations. Always follow a trusted recipe.
Nutmeg was expensive in Europe during the 18th and 19th century. Nutmeg became a symbol of wealth.
People who could afford it would keep a whole nutmeg in their pocket together with a small grater made especially for nutmegs.
When eating out they would grate a little nutmeg and sprinkle on the food they were served and thereby showing off their wealthy status.