Nutmeg a Complete Guide

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A wonderful spice, monopolized by the early Dutch traders and embraced by the English who used it in nearly everything, it should be a part of any cooks spice rack.


Nutmeg and mace come from the same fruit, hence the confusion for some. They are harvested from the nutmeg tree, a large tropical evergreen of the Spice Islands and West Indies. Capable of producing over twelve hundred nutmegs each the tree bears an edible fruit, which contains a seed, which is wrapped in an aril known as mace and inside the seed is the actual nutmeg.

Like mace, the nutmeg is an indispensable part of the European kitchen in particular. A key ingredient in flavouring white sauces, pies, puddings, breads, cakes and seafood dishes it can also be found in a number of classical egg dishes and soufflés. The Italians use it to flavour spinach and filled pastas whilst certain recipes for garam masala call for its inclusion. Nutmeg can be bought whole of powdered. I find it loses its flavour when powdered becoming quite musty. Much better to buy them whole and grate as required using a special nutmeg grater or the fine toothed side of a standard grater. Like mace it should be used in moderation.

Content and picture © Miles Collins