Nutmeg In The Kitchen
For generations, nutmeg has been a staple spice in every modern kitchen. However, it was once a rare and expensive commodity. Nutmeg was first “discovered” in the Banda islands in Indonesia and its popularity spread quickly. The use of nutmeg was so popular (and profitable for whoever controlled its export) that the Dutch military conquered the Banda islands to gain control of the nutmeg trade.
Nutmeg is more robust and is an ingredient in a wide array of recipes. It is great in desserts and coffees, but can also be used to flavor meats, vegetables, and sauces. Who hasn’t sprinkled a bit of nutmeg in their eggnog during the holidays? The English love it in egg custard and it is great for other custards and heavy dishes. It is found in a variety of pies, especially pumpkin, and sometimes apple. It can also completely change the complexion of cinnamon rolls.
Nutmeg can profitably be added to white sauces, especially those used to top a vegetable, such as green beans.
When cooking with nutmeg, just like any other spice, get it as fresh as possible. Ground or powdered nutmeg can lose its flavor over time. To get the full effects, consider buying a whole nutmeg and grating it yourself. Use the smallest holes in any style of grater and be sure to grate up only the amount you need at the time. Store the rest of the nut in an airtight container in a cool dry place.
If there is not a handy supply of nutmeg in the kitchen, substitute mace for nutmeg in almost any recipe. Mace comes from the same tree. It is a husk that surrounds the nutmeg seed (or nut).
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