Nutmeg Myristica fragrans
Origin Moluccas (the spice islands).
Part Used Seed
Nutmeg is one of the old spices. Along with cloves and pepper, nutmeg has been cultivated for over a thousand years, and is quite popular today. A kernel or berry from an evergreen tree, nutmeg has distinct and recognizable flavor. The tree can reach a height of 40 feet producing fruit of variable shape. The tree produces two spices: nutmeg, which is the inner seed kernel of the pale yellow, peach-like fruit, and the softer flavored mace, which grows as a lace-like covering over the nutmeg's outer shell. When the fleshy husk ripens it splits, releases the deep brown aromatic nutmeg.
Native to Banda Island (part of the Spice Islands) the term Banda Nutmeg is still used today to denote a spice of particularly high quality. Indonesia still supplies nutmeg to the world spice market, but other countries have commercial production, especially the small Caribbean Island of Grenada. In the spice trade, nutmeg is labeled "East Indian" or "West Indian" meaning that it comes from, respectively, Indonesia and nearby islands, or Grenada.
It is used to enhance pies, cakes, custards when baking or on vegetables such as spinach and potatoes, or on pasta dishes. It marries well with cinnamon, mace, cardamom, cloves and ginger. It should be added at the end of dish preparation as the flavor tends to dissipate under heat.
Available whole, ground