You have always used nutmeg as a popular flavoring spice for your apple pie recipes, zucchini bread recipes, soups, etc. Have you ever thought what is nutmeg and where is it produced?
Ground Nutmeg Substitute
Nutmeg is usually used in dessert recipes, savory dishes like cheese sauces, soups, meat and potato dishes. The best substitute for ground nutmeg is ground cinnamon. Cinnamon is the most common substitute. You can even use ginger, mace, allspice or cloves as freshly grated nutmeg substitute. Pumpkin pie spice is a great substitute, if you run out of nutmeg while baking an apple pie.
The nutmeg tree is originally from Banda, the largest Molucca (spice island) in Indonesia. It grows on Myristica fragrans, an evergreen tree that is now cultivated in West Indies. The nutmeg tree produces not one but two spices, that is, nutmeg and mace. Nutmeg is actually the seed of the kernel inside the fruit. The aril on the kernel is mace.
The early importers of nutmeg were the Arabs who were the sole traders of this spice to Europe. When Vasco de Gama reached the Moluccas in 1512, and claimed the island for Portugal, the monopoly of the Arabs decreased. The Dutch claimed rights over the tree and restricted the propagation of the tree only to the islands of Banda and Amboina. The Dutch did all they possibly could to prevent the spread of nutmeg trees around the world. But Pierre Poivre (Peter Piper) a French smuggled the nutmeg and clove seeds to Mauritius, off the east coast of Africa. The British took over the island of Moluccas, and the East Indian islands began cultivating the spice.
Nutmeg was believed to contain many magical powers. People believed carrying nutmeg under the left armpit would help them attract admirers. Some even wore amulets of nutmeg with the belief that it would protect them from boils, broken bones and even rheumatism.
Nutmeg spice is produced from the encased mottled yellow edible fruit. The fruit splits in half and reveals a red covering over the seed. This red covering is aril, which is collected and dried. It is then sold as mace. The dark shiny nut-like pit is nutmeg. The nutmeg is lightly wrinkled, dark brown outside and light brown inside. It has a sweet, aromatic and nutty aroma and is nutty, warm and slightly sweet in flavor.
Nutmeg is used in a number of pudding recipes, custards, cookie recipes and spice cake recipes. You can even add it to tomato soups, slit pea soups, chicken soups, etc. Egg, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, beans, eggplant dishes can also be added with a little nutmeg. It is even included in many middle eastern lamb recipes, Italian mortadella sausages, mulled wines and punches.
Nutmeg is known to aid digestion, help in treating diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. It is thought to increase appetite. The flavor and fragrance of nutmeg contains oils of myristica that contain myristicin which is a poisonous narcotic. It can induce hallucinations, vomiting, epileptic symptoms, even death when consumed in large doses. But do not worry, you won't experience any of these symptoms, even if you add a generous amount of nutmeg to your recipes.
This was just a brief information on the popular spice nutmeg. It does not have any allergic reactions similar to other nut allergies. It is very rare to find someone who is allergic to nutmeg. If you run out of nutmeg in your kitchen, do not worry, you now know which are the other substitutes.