A little nutmeg goes a long way. Try telling that, though, to the inhabitants of Western Europe in the late 1700’s who couldn’t get enough of the spice rumored to be an aphrodisiac — the Dutch fought a war in the East Indies just to maintain their monopoly over production and intentionally destroyed stockpiles to inflate prices back home. While it’s hard to imagine anyone today getting into such a fuss over a spice, it’s still a fairly expensive commodity — a two-ounce jar of whole nutmeg can easily cost $10.
What is it about nutmeg that makes it so valuable? Its unique flavor and aroma — spicy, pungent, and slightly sweet — pairs well with creamy dishes and drinks, such as béchamel sauce, eggnog, and creamed spinach. It is also often found in baked fruit-based desserts such as apple crumb pie, as well as curry blends. Best when freshly grated from the whole seed, nutmeg is a versatile spice used in many cuisines around the world. (Photo courtesy of Alberto Peroli)
Most nutmeg harvested today comes either from Indonesia or Grenada, a small island nation located in the Caribbean where the spice was so important, it was incorporated into the country’s flag. When the fruit is harvested from the tropical tree, the nutmeg seed is separated, protected by a colorful membrane which pops open at maturity. That colorful membrane is also processed into a valuable spice — mace. (Photo courtesy of flickr/smithysteads)
Extending the shelf life of nutmeg is fairly simple and straightforward. Store it in a dark container away from heat and humidity, and avoid freezing it; the condensation that forms when thawing can actually shorten shelf life. (Click here to see 8 Genius Ways to Store Canned Goods and Spices.) When cooking with nutmeg, it’s best to grate it in off the heat, to maintain flavor. Once nutmeg is grated, it begins to lose its essential oils, which give it the characteristic aroma and flavor, so avoid purchasing ground nutmeg; it may be cheaper, but it won’t be worth it.
So next time you’re having trouble pinpointing that extra special something in a dish, you might not know exactly what it is, but you can take a pretty good guess: It might just be nutmeg.
The Best Type of Nutmeg to Use In Your Baking (and everything else!)
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You know how you sometimes experience something and it instantly brings back a fond memory?
Like hearing an old song from a time when something really great was happening in your life.
Or smelling a scent that brings you back to a happy memory of someone from your past.
Or when you taste something that brings you back to your childhood and the simplicity of that time?
Nutmeg is one of those magical triggers for me.
Nutmeg is a taste that brings me back to my childhood. My mom makes something called &ldquosweet bread&rdquo and it&rsquos filled with delicious nutmeg flavour. And no, it&rsquos not that horrid sweet bread that comes from an animal. Rather, it&rsquos a sweet and nicely spiced nutmeggy, coconutty loaf that those from the Caribbean know very well. I&rsquove made it a few times myself, but there is no other sweet bread like my mom&rsquos sweetbread.
So, nutmeg. I love it. It&rsquos a warming spice and it&rsquos filled with flavour. It instantly transforms a regular recipe into a very special recipe.
I try to make it work in my recipes wherever it makes sense. The most convenient type to use is pre-ground nutmeg, but let me tell you&hellipif you use pre-ground nutmeg, you are losing out on a whole lot of flavour. Who knows when that nutmeg was ground? So much flavour has been lost.
So what is the best type of nutmeg to use in your baking if it&rsquos not the pre-ground stuff?
Buy the whole nutmeg seeds and grate them using a microplane or mini grater as needed for your recipes.
And remember, a little goes a long way which is why recipes never really call for that much. The seeds are inexpensive and can be found at most well-stocked grocery stores.
Try using nutmeg this way and you will notice a big change for the good in the flavour of your baking (and non-baking!) recipes. Such a tiny change will make a huge difference!
Some recipes to try with freshly grated nutmeg:
Hi! I’m Gwen and if you’re looking for easy-to-make, delicious plant-based and gluten-free recipes you’ll want to make over and over again, you’ve landed in the right place! Read more…
What's the Difference Between Nutmeg and Mace Blade?
Nutmeg and mace are sibling spices! Both mace and nutmeg are derived from the nutmeg tree, which is native to the Banda Islands and the Caribbean. The pit of the fruit that grows on the nutmeg tree is nutmeg, and the covering on the seeds of the fruit is mace.
While mace and nutmeg come from the same tree, they're very different spices. For one, nutmeg is a lot less costly than mace. That's mainly due to the availability of the pits versus the seeds of the fruit. Because nutmeg is so plentiful, recipes typically call for nutmeg as opposed to mace. Additionally, mace has a spicier, more intense flavor than nutmeg—in fact, mace is quite similar to black pepper .
What is nutmeg, and how can I use it?
Nutmeg is most often found in baking recipes for cookies and cakes, but you can also use it to spice up stews, soups, meats, fruits, and preserves. One of the most popular uses for nutmeg is on top of holiday eggnog. Nutmeg works well in recipes that also call for allspice, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, pepper, or thyme. Since it's such a versatile spice, nutmeg can be used in sweet and savory preparations. To get the most out of your nutmeg, purchase them whole and grate them fresh when a recipe calls for it. Typically, one whole nutmeg will yield two or three teaspoons of the spice.
Does nutmeg offer health benefits?
Like many spices, nutmeg offers several health benefits. Using nutmeg can help relieve pain or soothe indigestion. Nutmeg can also provide cognitive clarity and help to detoxify your organs and skin. The spice is also said to help with oral issues, reducing insomnia, and preventing leukemia.
How can I use mace, and does it offer health benefits?
Mace is another common baking spice most commonly found in doughnuts, cakes, and cookies. Like nutmeg, you can also use mace in savory dishes like eggs, sausage, stuffing, or veal. Though they're not the same, mace does pair well with the same spices as nutmeg. Mace also provides several health benefits. Incorporating mace into your cooking can help improve your digestion, bust stress, boost blood flow, and protect your kidneys. If you're feeling under the weather, mace can help alleviate cold and flu symptoms, too.
Are you ready to start using more mace and nutmeg in your kitchen? Slofoodgroup offers Whole Nutmeg from Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan Mace Blade . Check out our nutmeg recipes and mace recipes to see what you want to whip up first!
What are its traditional uses and health benefits?
Aside from its function in cooking or baking as a seasoning, calabash nutmeg has an array of traditional medicinal purposes. Categorized by some as an antimicrobial and a stimulant, it has been said to help with intestinal issues, and when ground into a powder, it can serve as an antiseptic applied to irritated skin. It has demonstrated effectiveness in preventing nausea, treating eye diseases, hypertension and hemorrhoids, and has even shown promising anti-sickling effects. Potentially beneficial for folks dealing with heart conditions, calabash nutmeg, which is a source of calcium, folic acid, and vitamins C and E, may reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by lowering cholesterol.
Food What is moringa? Everything you need to know about the superfood
While a spate of studies continue to come out on its holistic health benefits and medicinal qualities, calabash nutmeg has been used to treat a wide range of maladies by certain communities for centuries. In traditional medicine, when combined with Ashanti pepper in soup, calabash nutmeg has been used to control passive bleeding from the womb immediately after childbirth. It is also used as a remedy for relieving pain, inducing sleep and reducing fevers.
7 Incredible Nutmeg Benefits: From Inducing Sleep to Relieving Pain
Besides being an exotic spice, nutmeg is grouped under the category of aphrodisiacs, and in cooking, only small quantities - such as a little grating or a pinch of the ground powder - are used to make soups, meat gravies, beef stew, steaks, roulades, and even desserts. In India, it is more commonly seen in Kerala, probably being brought in during the ancient spice trade. The locals use it to flavour meat curries and desserts, while the flesh of the fruit goes into the making of pickles, chutneys and other condiments. The spice is also a regular feature in Mughlai cuisine, being used as part of the various masala mixes for the meat preparations. In Hindi, it is known as Jaiphal.
The nutmeg tree is also valued for its medicinal properties. The leaves and other parts of the tree are used in extracting essential oil as well as nutmeg butter, which are used for the purpose of beauty and have other health benefits. Nutmeg is packed with nutrients: minerals such as magnesium, manganese and copper and vitamins such as B1, B6, etc.
Curious to know more? Here's listing out the many benefits of nutmeg -
1. Relives Pain
Nutmeg contains many essential volatile oils such as myristicin, elemicin, eugenol and safrole. According to the book DK Healing Foods, "Its (nutmeg) volatile oils have anti-inflammatory properties that make it useful for treating joint and muscle pain." Just a few drops of the essential oil on the affected area can treat inflammation, swelling, joint pain, muscle pain and sores.
2. Helps Treat Insomnia
Nutmeg has a calming effect when consumed in smaller doses. Various ancient medicinal practices credit it for its sleep inducing and de-stressing effects. According to Ayurveda, you should add a pinch of nutmeg to a glass of warm milk and have it before sleeping. You can also add in some almonds and a pinch of cardamom for added benefits.
3. Helps Digestion
Nutmeg contains essential oils which have a carminative effect on our system. So if you are suffering from digestive issues such as diarrhoea, constipation, bloating or gas, a home remedy is to grate a pinch of nutmeg in your soups and stews, and have it. It will help in the secretion of digestive enzymes, bringing about relief, whereas the fiber content in nutmeg will help in bowel movement. It also helps in removing excessive gas from the system.(Looking for products to help boost your digestive health? Shop now!)
4. Brain Health
Nutmeg is an aphrodisiac, stimulating the nerves in the brain. It was commonly used as a brain tonic by the Greek and Romans during the ancient times. It is known to be an effective ingredient for treating depression and anxiety as its essential oil tend to ease fatigue and stress. "As an adaptogen, it can be both a stimulant and a sedative, according to the body's needs. In times of stress, it can help lower blood pressure. Conversely, it can lift your mood and acts as a tonic and stimulant, making it beneficial if you are recovering from an illness or are overtired," as mentioned in the book DK Healing Food. It is also known to help in concentration.
5. Treat Bad Breath
Bad breath could be a sign of toxicity in your system. Unhealthy lifestyle and improper diet can build up toxins in your organs. Nutmeg is touted to help in detoxifying the body, clearing out toxins from the liver and kidneys. Since its essential oils have anti-bacterial properties, it helps in removing bacteria from the mouth which are responsible for causing bad breath. It is commonly used as an ingredient for Ayurvedic toothpastes and gum pastes. The essential oil eugenol helps in reliving toothaches as well.
6. Gorgeous Skin
Nutmeg is a good ingredient for skincare because of its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties as well as its ability to remove blackheads, treat acne and clogged pores. A common home remedy is to mix equal parts of ground nutmeg and honey, make a paste and apply it on pimples. Leave it for 20 minutes, and then wash with cold warm. You can also make a paste using nutmeg powder and a few drop of milk, and massage it into your skin before rinsing clean. It can be used in scrubs along with oatmeal, orange peel, etc.(For chemical-free beauty products, shop on SmartCooky!)
7. Blood Pressure and Circulation
Its high mineral content makes nutmeg a good ingredient for regulating blood circulation and pressure. It contains calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, etc., which are all essential for various functions in the body. Its stress reducing properties help in relaxing the blood vessels while keeping the heart functioning efficiently.
Note: Nutmeg should always be used in smaller doses whether in cooking or home remedies for treating various ailments. If used in larger doses, it can cause nausea, hallucination and palpitations.
This needs a long, lazy roasting, so enjoy the aromas as you get ready for the party.
Since 1995, Epicurious has been the ultimate food resource for the home cook, with daily kitchen tips, fun cooking videos, and, oh yeah, over 33,000 recipes.
Nutmeg bread makes a wonderful food gift.
1 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 stick butter or 8 tablespoons or 1/2 cup, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
Whisk together to flour, soda and nutmeg in a bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl cream the sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla with a mixer. Combine the flour mixture with the egg mixture, add buttermilk and continue mixing. Stir in nuts. Spray a 9 x 5 baking pan with cooking spray. Add bread mixture and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour or until center of bread tests done. Makes 1 loaf. Enjoy!
Note: You could add a glaze to the top of this bread or sprinkle on powdered sugar but it really doesn’t need anything else.
A Brief Nutmeg Timeline
Sixth Century A.D. Arab spice traders bring mace and nutmeg to Constantinople. These early spice traders shrouded their spices in misinformation and spice lore, charging high prices as a result. By the end of the 12th century, most wealthy and elite Europeans had tried these exotic spices and fell madly in love with them.
1512 Portuguese explorers ‘discover’ the source of nutmeg and establish themselves on and around the Banda islands, stocking up on mace, nutmeg, and cloves. This breakthrough makes mace and nutmeg more available and affordable in Europe.
Early 1600’s The Dutch East India Trading Company seizes control over all the Banda islands except the island Rhun, which was claimed by the English. The Dutch ferociously controlled the overwhelming majority of the nutmeg trade, destroying any plantations outside the Bandas and enforcing their monopoly by death penalty.
1667 The Dutch East India Trading Company officially trades the island of Manhattan (a fur trapping colony at the time) to the English for the Bandanese island of Rhun, solidifying their monopoly on nutmeg and mace.
1770 French spice traders successfully smuggle nutmeg trees to the island colony of Mauritius, inciting the downfall of the Dutch nutmeg monopoly. This is done by none other than Pierre Poivre (anglicized as Peter Pepper), a famous French botanist who introduced many spice plants to other French colonies.
1843 Nutmeg is introduced to Grenada by English merchants, eventually becoming the most successful producer of nutmeg and mace in the West Indies. As of 2019 Grenada is the world’s second largest nutmeg producer after Indonesia. Grenada’s flag even depicts a nutmeg fruit.
For the most updated allergen and nutritional information, it is important that you read the ingredient statement printed on the packaging at the time of your purchase.
We are aware of allergies and sensitivities. We will always declare the following ingredients on our label in the ingredients statement - they will never be hidden under the notations of "spices" or "natural flavors":
- Tree Nuts (almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnut (filbert), macadamia nut, walnut)
- Gluten containing grains - including barley, rye, oats, spelt, triticale, and kamut
- Milk & Milk Products
- Monosodium Glutamate (or MSG)
- Yellow Dye #5 (Tartrazine)
- Sulfites over 10 ppm
If no ingredient statement appears on the product label, then the products is as it appears in the product name (e.g. black pepper). This labeling policy is compliant with US or Canadian food labeling laws, as appropriate. All our retail Extracts and Food Colors are formulated without gluten.
If any product has a Gluten Free claim, the product and the manufacturing line has been validated Gluten Free.
Our facilities have allergen, sanitation, and hygiene programs in place. Our employees follow good manufacturing practices and are trained in the importance of correct labeling and the necessity of performing thorough equipment clean-up and change over procedures to minimize cross-contact of ingredients.
Again, we encourage you to read the ingredients statement on your package at the time of purchase to ensure accurate, up to date information.
This 2-Ingredient Ayurvedic Drink Will Give You the Best Sleep of Your Life
Ah, the rush of the holidays is finally over. Now it’s time to curl up by the fire with a nice book at the close of the day and catch up on some much needed relaxation. And what better way to do so than with a good night’s rest? Restful sleep can be hard to come by, but luckily, Ayurveda — the Indian sister science of Yoga — proposes a simple (and delicious) solution.
In Ayurveda — which translates to “the science of life” — food is our medicine. There are so many foods out there that combine to make the perfect sleep-promoting elixirs, and the most effective one is simpler to use than you’d think. This Ayurvedic nightcap beverage is so relaxing and easy to make, you’ll have to try it to believe it. Of all the Ayurvedic spices that are known to have sedating qualities for the body and mind, one of the most recommended for sleep is something you probably already have in your kitchen cabinet: nutmeg.
According to Ayurveda, nutmeg is used particularly in the autumn and winter months, as it is a heating spice with sedative benefits that helps balance the airy, cool, depressive qualities of this time of year. Nutmeg contains compounds that bring balance and calm to the central nervous system. These compounds not only help us feel less stressed, they also strengthen the digestive fire — called agni in Ayurveda — leading our bodies to better absorb nutrients from our food.
This sleep tonic only requires one other ingredient: cow’s milk. According to Ayurveda, warm milk is one of the ultimate nourishing foods for us in the winter, promoting healthy tissues, a balanced nervous system, and overall health in the body and mind. Heating the milk is key, as boiling it helps to simplify the molecular structure of the milk, making it more easily digestible. For best results, try organic, non-homogenized milk. To make this simple Ayurvedic sleep elixir, follow the recipe below.