Nutmeg : What It Is and How to Use It

 Nutmeg : What It Is and How to Use It

Everything you need to know about this spice before it's time to bake
When you think of fall spices or holiday baking, you think of nutmeg, whether you know it or not. But beyond seasonal dishes, nutmeg is a sweet and savory ingredient that is great for everyday cooking as it is in baking.


What is nutmeg?

 Despite what its name may imply, nutmeg is not a nut, but a seed. (Nutmeg sufferers do not need to be banned from their homes.) Nutmeg, is a spice that comes from the fruit of the nutmeg, an evergreen tree native to Indonesia. . The fruit resides in the golden apricot like fruit of the tree.

In a bit of exaggeration, this plant produces two spices: nutmeg and mace. Nutmeg is the inner seed and the mace is the red substance, which covers the outer surface of the seed. The spices in our cupboards and on the store shelves are a variation of dark, sweet-smelling fruits. 

Where does nutmeg come from?
The nutmeg tree may be native to Indonesia, but it grows everywhere in tropical climates. When the fruit of this green plant ripens, it opens to reveal the aril inside, which is covered with a red layer which, when crushed, becomes mace. Once removed, the aril is left in the sun to slowly dry over 6 to 8 weeks, allowing the seed to separate from its hard outer layer. 

Nutmeg dates back to the first century, when it was considered an important trade currency. In fact, nutmeg was so valuable that it caused wars. The Dutch captured the Banda Islands in an attempt to monopolize the nutmeg trade, which led to war and eventually the creation of the Dutch East India Company.


What does nutmeg taste like? 

Nutmeg is slightly sweet, but appropriate descriptions include warm, spicy, earthy, spicy, or even slightly spicy (referring to hot notes rather than heat). Nutmeg is similar to many Christmas candles with a sweet scent. 

Ground nutmeg is also used in a few spice mixes like pumpkin pie spice, ras el hanout, garam masala, and Jamaican jerk food.

 Whole vs ground nutmeg

 Whole and ground nutmeg can be purchased at any grocery store. Grating the seed fresh is well fresher. It will have a cleaner taste and a sweeter aroma than store-bought nutmeg. (It's funny how good the flavor is in the fresh stuff.) If you're using it whole, you'll need a microplane or nutmeg grater.
Making nutmeg seeds is a small task, however, it takes time and patience to get even a quarter teaspoon for coffee or other cooking. It's definitely worth it, but no one will blame you for opting for the quality of real stuff. If all you do is sprinkle it on a drink, eat it.

 How to cook with nutmeg

Nutmeg is part of a special club of spices that lends itself to both sweetness and flavor, its warmth and depth making everything that touches it. Well known, b├ęchamel is used in a subtle way, and is very tasty.

 Nutmeg also has a long history in African and Caribbean cuisine. Try nutmeg in roasted squash or in squash soup, in vegetable gratin, alfredo, mashed potatoes, curry or bolognese. Drizzle it over sweet potatoes, add it to chicken mix, or use it to jazz up a pan of mac and cheese.

A variety of pies, custard tarts, cookies and cakes are in demand, especially during the holidays. Even if it's not in the recipe, you can add a little to any dish that needs cinnamon on the side.
Fresh food is the perfect finish to cream or drinks like lattes, cappuccinos and eggnogs, not to mention other drinks like flips or mulled wine.

 How to store nutmeg
Like other spices, it is best to store nutmeg, whole or ground, in an airtight container, away from heat, light or moisture.

Ground nutmeg will stay fresh for about six months. It won't be bad or bad for you, but it will definitely be less strong. Not all nutmegs are bad. If you only use it occasionally, it's best to buy it whole.

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