Nutmeg Spice

Nutmeg Spice

The culinary uses of the nutmeg spice are numerous. This write-up provides information on its history, culinary uses, and health benefits.
Tastessence Staff
Nutmeg spice is extracted from the seed kernel from the hard, egg-shaped seed of the evergreen tree called Myristica fragrans. This tree is native to Banda Island. The tree is mostly found in Indonesia. The fruit of this tree is sour, it is not used in the recipes. It is from the seed kernel that both nutmeg and mace are procured. While the former is the seed of the fruit, the latter is the dark orange lacy covering that encloses the seed.
History
This spice has long been known for its culinary uses and curative powers. During the Middle ages, the Banda Islands were the only source for this spice. The trade was entirely dominated by the Arabs, who didn't disclose the source of this spice and sold it to the Europeans at exorbitant rates. During the 15th century, the Portuguese became aware of this fact. This was the root cause of the so-called 'Clash for Spices' between the Dutch and the British during the 17th century. As of today, around 12,000 tons of this spice is produced in a variety of locations such as Grenada, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and India. The USA, European Union, and Japan are major buyers of this spice.
Culinary Uses
This spice is used in a variety of dishes throughout the world. It is often described as having a warm, spicy and sweet flavor, akin to a mixture of black pepper and cinnamon. In Malaysia, it is a preferred ingredient in soups and curries. In the Mediterranean and the Middle East, it is used in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies. The Dutch add it to a variety of vegetables like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and string beans. The Germans use it in their meats, soups, sauces, potato, and baked dishes. The French use it in omelets, souffles, and a variety of cheese-based sauces. Black pepper is often used as a substitute to give a stronger and richer essence to sausage mixtures, curries, stews, lamb, chicken, and veal. In the Caribbean, it is a popular topping on a variety of exotic drinks like the 'Bushwacker,' the 'Painkiller', and the ever popular 'Barbados Punch Rum.' A number of tea bars have also popularized this spice by way of its inclusion in the spiced tea, which is not only refreshing, but is also a healthy alternative with its blend of rejuvenating spices.
How to Store It
This spice has a strong fragrance along with a slight tangy flavor. If you want a savory flavor, sprinkle it once you have finished cooking. It is added to baked goods like pies and muffins, custard, white sauces, eggnog, etc. Once grated, this spice loses its flavor quickly, so it is advisable to buy whole nutmeg and store it in an airtight container in a cool dark area, away from sunlight.
Health Benefits
There is more to this spice than its sweet and spicy flavor. It releases serotonin, which will make you feel relaxed. It is also known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Oil extracted from it could be taken to get relief from flatulence, diarrhea, and indigestion. Though its health benefits are many, it should be used in moderation. Don't ever take more than two tablespoons. Since this spice contains myristicin, an overdose might cause dangerous side effects like hallucinations and delusions. An overdose of this spice can be harmful for pregnant women. In case you are allergic to this spice, avoid it completely.
Nutmeg can certainly impart flavor to your food, but excess of anything is bad. So, always use it in moderation.