The kernel of the fruit of the nutmeg tree, nutmeg is a spice that originated in the Moluccas (Maluku Islands) in Indonesia. It is contained inside a tough husk and enveloped by a reddish-brown membrane or « aril » known as mace. Nutmeg has a very aromatic fragrance, but this warm-flavored spice should be used in moderation. In large amounts, it is actually considered toxic.
Nutmeg is sold whole and ground. It is easy to find in the spice and condiments section of supermarkets. Nutmeg today is imported from Indonesia, but also from the Antilles, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka.
Nutmeg is simple to use; simply sprinkle it over your dishes. Otherwise, use a small grater with small holes. Whole nutmeg is often sold together with this utensil.
Nutmeg can be used in both savory and sweet preparations. It combines very well with potatoes. A pinch of nutmeg can be added to gratin dauphinois or mashed potatoes, for example. This spice is also used to add subtle flavor to béchamel sauce. It is used to flavor dishes containing cheese, such as quiches and soufflés. Nutmeg flavors sweet preparations, such as spice bread, cakes, and tarts. Finally, a hint of nutmeg can enliven sangría or punches, and add flair to cocktails.
Nutmeg should be stored in an airtight container away from moisture and heat. However, it will store better if bought whole. In fact, its flavor will be preserved longer this way.
Nutmeg is recommended for respiratory and rheumatic ailments but should be taken in small doses.