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Nutmeg: (Myristica fragrans), a tropical evergreen tree (family Myristicaceae) and the spice made from its seeds. The tree is native to the Moluccas, or Spice Islands, in Indonesia and is grown primarily there and in the West Indies. The spice has a distinctive pungent aroma and a warm, slightly sweet taste. It is used to flavor many types of baked goods, sweets, desserts, potatoes, meats, sausages, sauces, vegetables, and drinks such as eggs. The fleshy weeds surrounding the nutmeg seed are the source of the spice mushroom.
Historically, grated nutmeg was used as a sachet, and the Romans used it as an incense. Around 1600 it became important as an expensive commercial spice in the Western world, and was the subject of Dutch schemes to keep prices high and for English and French plots to obtain fertile seeds for cultivation.
First, nutmeg is not actually one type of spice, but two; Mace is derived from the fruit of the nutmeg, as it is the outer covering of it’s seed.
These two spices have a long and interesting history – traveling from Indonesia to England – and because of their high value, wars were fought to control trade.
How Nutmeg and Mace Grow
The nutmeg tree is evergreen, with oblong egg-shaped leaves and small, light yellow, bell-like flowers that give off a distinct aroma when in bloom.
The fruit is light yellow with red and green markings resembling a large apricot or plum. As the fruits ripen, the fleshy outer covering (which is pickled or pickled as snacks in Malaysia) erupts to reveal the seed.
The seed is covered with a red membrane called aryl, which is the mace part of nutmeg.
The seed is then dried for up to two months until the inner nut within the shell has burst. The husk is then removed to reveal the egg-shaped, edible nutmeg.
(Second grade nuts are pressed for oil, which is used in perfumery and in the food industry.)
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The Origin of Nutmeg and Mace
Known botanically as Myristica fragrans, the tree originates in Banda, the largest of the Spice Islands of the Molucca Islands in Indonesia. The English word for nutmeg comes from the Latin nux meaning nut and musk meaning musk.
There is evidence that both nutmeg and mace were discovered as early as the first century AD when Roman author Pliny talks about a tree bearing nuts in two flavors.
Later, Emperor Henry VI smoked the streets of Rome with it before his coronation.
In the sixth century, Arab merchants brought it to Constantinople. But it was in the seventeenth century when nutmeg became worth waging wars.
The Dutch waged a bloody war, including the massacre and enslavement of the inhabitants of Banda Island, just to control it’s production in the East Indies.
Later, during negotiations over Manhattan Island, the Dutch exchanged the island for control of a nutmeg-producing island owned by the British.
The Dutch held control of the spice islands until World War II.
The Value of Nutmeg and Mace
You may be wondering why the seasoning we use to sprinkle Christmastime drinks so much blood and turmoil. It turns out that nutmeg was fashionable among the wealthy as a hallucinogen.
The intoxicating spice can make you feel as if you are floating. It has also been honored for its medicinal and culinary uses.
In the fourteenth century, the price of half a kilogram of nutmeg amounted to three sheep or a cow.
In 1760, the price of nutmeg in London was 85 to 90 shillings per pound, a price kept high artificially by the Dutch who voluntarily burned entire warehouses of it in Amsterdam.
But now you can buy nutmeg in a cheaper price by clicking here (Thanks for online shopping 😉
The Spices’ Migration
Frenchman Pierre Poiver transported it’s seedlings to Mauritius where they thrived, helping to end the Dutch monopoly on spices.
The British East India Company brought the nutmeg tree to Penang, Singapore, India, Sri Lanka, the West Indies, most notably Grenada, where it is considered a national symbol and is proudly decorated with the country’s flag in red, yellow, and green.
Benefits of Nutmeg – Learn how this spice can make your family’s life better
India is the land of spices. Step into the kitchen of a typical Indian home, and you will find a series of neatly arranged containers filled with different kinds of spices.
One such spice that you’ll find in one of those many containers is nutmeg. Valued for its sweet aroma, this spice is actually the seed of an evergreen tree native to Indonesia, known as myristica fragrans.
it’s used by many Indian cuisines for its aromatic value and unique flavour. But it’s more than just a spice that enhances the taste and aroma of food. It has abundant nutritional value as well.
1. It helps in weight loss
It also helps in aiding weight loss as well. It can help the body eliminate toxins, and the digestive properties that it has can help in increasing metabolism, thereby helping with weight loss.
2. Promotes hair growth
Nutmeg is a great organic product for hair growth as well. The antimicrobial properties it possesses can help keep the scalp clean and prevent dandruff.
There are many over-the-counter shampoos that contain it as the primary ingredient, and you can buy this, or you can make your own hair treatment using coconut powder, coconut oil, and honey.
3. Helps Provide Relief from Diarrhoea
While we previously mentioned that it aids in digestion, this spice can help treat and relieve diarrhea as well. It contains chemicals with carminative properties.
The best way to consume it to treat diarrhea is to take it with cold water.
4. Helps Lower Cholesterol Levels
Consuming it in appropriate quantities has shown to lower cholesterol levels as well. This spice has the property of lowering hypolipidemic effects that help trigger a rise in cholesterol levels.
5. Has Anti-Cancer Properties
It has chemopreventive properties that can help prevent cancer. The chemical myristicin in nutmeg can help fight the growth of cancer cells and the spread of leukemia.
6. Has Antidepressant Properties
It also has a calming effect on the body, which makes it a great antidepressant. A Many Ayurvedic medicines use this spice as part of their medication for depression and anxiety.
7. Helps Protect the Liver
It’s rich in mycelignan, which can help treat liver disorders and injuries. Research suggests that extracts found in it can help treat hepatitis.
It also has anti-inflammatory properties as well, and can help treat hepatitis. It can also help remove toxins from the body, especially the liver.
8. Helps Regulate Blood Pressure and Circulation
It’s rich in minerals such as calcium, potassium, manganese, and iron, all of which help in regulating blood pressure and promoting blood circulation.
These minerals have a stress-reducing effect, relax blood vessels and help regulate blood pressure.
9. Helps Treat Bad Breath
Bad breath is an excess of toxins in your body. It is known to have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, and this can help in cleaning your system.
One of the essential oils found in it is eugenol, which can help relieve toothache as well. Macelignan, a chemical found in nutmeg, can help prevent cavities.
10. Great for Your Skin
If you are looking for a natural product that can do wonders for your skin, nutmeg is your answer. There are many benefits of it for the face and skin.
Its numerous antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties can help maintain healthy and supple skin and open pores and blackheads. It also works as a great facial scrub.
The best way to use this spice for your skin is to mix it in powder form with honey and gently cleanse your skin.
11. Helps in Brain Activity
It acts as an aphrodisiac, which means that it can stimulate nerve cells in the brain.
The chemicals in this spice can help release feel-good hormones in the body, which in turn has a calming effect on you. Since it lifts your mood and acts as a tonic, it’s a great option to help treat stress.
12. Helps Relieve Pain
It has anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve pain and discomfort. This spice contains chemicals like myricetin, elimycin, safrole, and eugenol, which makes it useful in treating pain.
These chemicals are found in it’s oil. Nutmeg oil benefits include treating swelling, inflammation, joint pain, muscle spasms, aches and sores.
13. Helps Treat Insomnia
Nutmeg appears to have insomnia-curing properties as well.
It has been proven that a little of it in a glass of warm milk, causes drowsiness in many people.
A Many mothers give their babies warm milk with a little nutmeg powder mixed in. This is an old tradition that has been passed down through generations because it is actually very effective.
In fact, it to induce sleep is an organic and healthy way to treat insomnia.
14. Helps Improve Digestion
It’s known to have medicinal properties that can treat stomach ulcers and aid in digestion. A Many people add this spice to food because it helps in the digestion process.
Sometimes, even Indian sweets are garnished with a bit of it for the same reason.
The 7 Best Substitutes for Nutmeg
Cooking a recipe and finding that you’ve run out of that all-important spice, nutmeg? do not eat. Save yourself a trip to the store, and don’t let a lack of nutmeg stop you from completing that special recipe.
There are seven perfectly suited spices you can substitute for nutmeg in a pinch – but one that stands out above the rest. Read on to find out the best substitute for nutmeg plus six other spices that will work, too.
1. The Best Bet Is Mace
This is the closest and best alternative to nutmeg. Mace is actually the outer membrane that surrounds it before it is harvested, so it shares many of the same flavors.
Replace the nutmeg in your recipe with an equal amount of mace. But, if your pantry lacks this special spice, there are six other alternatives that will do the trick.
2. Garam Masala
This is a spice blend commonly used in Indian, Pakistani and other Asian cuisines. Ingredients vary, but a typical recipe includes mace, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves, so it’s a good substitute for nutmeg.
Since garam masala also typically includes peppers, bay leaves, and cumin, this alternative works best in savory dishes. Replace it with a scale.
Clove has a sweet, spicy, and peppery flavor that pairs well with nutmeg. For this reason, you’ll often see recipes that call for both. If you don’t have nutmeg, you can use ground cloves instead.
Just know that a little goes a long way. Half of the cloves should get the job done. If the recipe you’re working on already calls for cloves, consider using a different substitute. You definitely don’t want to overdo the cloves.
This root has a spicier bite than nutmeg, but it tends to work well in the types of recipes where nutmeg is used.
Since ginger lacks a sweet side, you’ll find that it works best as a substitute for savory dishes. Replace nutmeg with an equal amount of ground ginger in meat and vegetable dishes.
The English believed that the taste of these spices resembled a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, so they called them allspice.
This flavor profile makes it a good choice as a substitute for nutmeg. Use an equal amount of allspice in place of the nutmeg called for in your recipe.
You can use cinnamon as a substitute for nutmeg in both sweet and savory recipes. It has a similar flavor profile, but is a bit more pungent, so start with half the amount, and taste to determine if you need to add more.
This fall favorite is a blend of nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and cinnamon. So, if you use it as a substitute, you’ll get some actual nutmeg in your recipe, as well as many other spices that work well as a nutmeg substitute.
It can be used in both sweet and savory dishes with good results. Replace the required nutmeg with an equal amount of pumpkin pie spice.
How to Store it
Like with other spices, it’s best to keep it in a cool and dark place, away from sunlight and sources of heat. The pantry is the best choice, but a spice drawer in the kitchen is a more practical one.
When it comes to the ground type , it often comes in paper packets.
If you expect to store it for more than a year, consider pouring it into a bowl or small container. Otherwise, do your best to seal it in its original packaging.
In general, keep in mind that spices should be away from moisture, sunlight and high temperatures.
Because of the latter type, avoid squeaking it directly on the food you’re cooking on the stove. Do it on the counter instead and spray it with your fingers.
How Long Does it Last
Similar to cinnamon, whole nutmeg retains its quality longer than its ground counterpart. This is because grinding exposes more air space, meaning it loses flavor faster.
With whole nutmeg, only the surface of the seed can reach the air, while after grinding, every part of the powder is on the surface.
While spices usually come with a better date, they are only marginally beneficial. This is only an estimate, and in almost all cases the spice will retain flavor and aroma for much longer.
In general, you can assume that well-stored whole nutmeg seeds will keep their freshness for about 4 years, while ground nutmeg will keep for about 2 years.
This is of course the best quality. Provided the water does not reach the seasoning, it should last much longer than that, and in reasonably good condition.
Please note that nutmeg, like other spices, loses potency over time. That means that after a few years of storage, the flavor and aroma won’t be as intensive as it used to be.
The estimates above are for the best quality. Nutmeg will stay safe to consume for much longer.
How to Tell if Nutmeg Is Bad?
Let’s start with the actual damage. If the water reaches the whole or ground nutmeg package, there will be mold or some other organic growth. This is a sure sign that you should get rid of. The same if it smells bad.
If water does not reach it, it should be safe to eat. But before adding it to eggnog or some baked goods, you should check its effectiveness. Especially if it has already been in stock for more than a year.
To do this, we need ground nutmeg. So, if you want to check out the quality of whole nutmeg, start with a little bit of grating.
Now rub a small amount between your fingers, taste and smell it. If the flavor or smell is weak or barely noticeable, start with a new can. Otherwise, it is good to use and savor your dishes.