What is Nutmeg and How Do You Use It?

FR: Muscade, Noix de muscade (Banda)

GER: Muskat, MuskatnuR IT: Noce moscata SP: Moscada, Nuez moscada BOT: Myristica fragrans FAM: Myristicaceae ILL: Plate 19, No. 7

The nutmeg tree is a large evergreen, native to some of the Indonesian islands and the Philippines, but now grown in other parts of the tropics including the West Indies. When the fruit is ripe, it looks like a yellow plum. These fruits later dry and then split open. Inside the nutmeg lies in a sort of bright red cage, the aril, and this cage, when dried, we know as mace.

What is Nutmeg and How Do You Use It? Photo Gallery

Nutmegs had reached Europe certainly by the twelfth century and were obviously well known to Chaucer.

There springer herbs grate and smalle The licoris and the setewole And many a clove gilofre And note muge to put ale Whether it be moist or stale.’

It was not, however, until the Portuguese discovered the Spice Islands in 1512 that the nutmeg came into general use. It was then in great demand and was one of the spices which caused so much trouble and has provided so much material for the history blogs.

Nutmegs may be dark, or white with the lime used to discourage insects. It is usual to grate nutmeg straight into the dish in which it is required, as once grated it rapidly loses its best flavour. In English cooking today nutmeg is mainly used in cakes and sweet dishes, but it is equally important in savoury and meat dishes. It goes into sausages and other meat products from haggis to mortadella. Nutmeg goes particularly well with spinach, a flavour combination which is especially popular in Italy. The filling for ravioli nearly always contains spinach and with it nutmeg. Since nutmeg also goes well with cheese this is yet another reason why nutmeg is so enormously popular in Italy. Nutmeg is also a common flavouring in the Levant and like cinnamon gives a rather special flavour to mutton. It is also essential in many spiced dishes from the Middle and Far East, although not a common curry spice. It is the making of onion sauce.

Punches and drinks to be taken at night usually contain nutmeg, which has slightly soporific qualities. In fact, nutmeg in large quantities is poisonous, and when put into alcoholic drinks it greatly increases their effect.

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Post tags, Food and drink, Myristica, Myristica fragrans, Nutmeg, Spices.

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