Nutmeg | Bakepedia - Baking Encyclopedia

nutmeg

nutmeg (nuht-meg) noun

Nutmeg fruit

One of two spices derived from the evergreen tree Myristica fragrans, the other being mace. Nutmeg is often found in winter holiday sweets, some cream-based sauces and, commonly, eggnog. It is a pungent, fragrant spice and a little goes a long way.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Myristica_fragrans_-_Köhler–s_Medizinal-Pflanzen-097

Image: Wikimedia Commons

The  fruit looks somewhat like an apricot in size and shape. As it ripens, it splits and exposes the single brown nut (what we buy as whole nutmeg in the store) surrounded by the vivid red aril, which is mace (as seen in image above). The nutmeg and mace are separated and sundried and processed separately. Most commercially prepared nutmeg is grown in Grenada as well as the Spice Islands of Indonesia. It is sold either ground or whole; these nutmegs are about 1 to 1 ½-inchs in length and about ¾-inch wide. 1

 

Bakepedia Tips

The spice is featured prominently in our Nutmeg Logs.

Purchased ground nutmeg is often granular and easy to measure. Freshly grated nutmeg has a fluffy texture and 1 teaspoon of the former does not equal 1 teaspoon of the latter, so use what the recipe calls for. Brands can also vary in flavor and potency due to quality and freshness. In the image below, you can see pre-ground far left adjacent to a small amount of fluffy just-grated nutmeg. The center is another brand of pre-ground. On the right is freshly ground with the whole nutmegs as well. We like to use the Microplane Grate and Shake style grater, as seen in the bottom image. This one has storage as well.

Nutmeg-comparisons

As with all ground spices, nutmeg loses its aromatic qualities and an old jar will not be nearly as potent as freshly ground. Start with a lesser amount as this spice can easily take over a dish. It is not uncommon for a Pinch or 1/8 of a teaspoon to be recommended in a recipe.

Nutmeg-microplane-2

References

  1. Encyclopedia Brittanica