Nutmeg is the actual seed of the nutmeg tree. This is the only tropical fruit that is the source of two different spices (nutmeg and mace). Nutmeg and mace have similar taste qualities, but mace has a stronger flavor. The nutmeg seed is encased in a mottled yellow, edible fruit, the approximate size and shape of a small peach. The fruit splits in half to reveal a net-like, bright red covering over the seed. This is the aril which is collected, dried and sold as mace. Under the aril is a dark shiny nut-like pit, and inside that is the oval shaped seed which is the nutmeg.
Nutmegs are usually sold without the mace or hard shell. Nutmeg is sold whole or ground, and is labeled as ‘East Indian’ or ‘West Indian’ indicating its source. Nutmeg is not a nut and does not pose a risk to people with nut allergies. Allergy to nutmeg does occur, but seems to be rather rare.
Nutmeg Medicinal Properties: Sedative, stimulant, relaxant, anti inflammatory, antiseptic, bactericide, etc.
Nutmeg Culinary Uses: Nutmeg is used in sweet and spicy dishes like pies, custard, cookies spice cakes, cheese sauces, soups, egg and vegetables dishes. Mace is often preferred in light-colored dishes for the bright orange, saffron-like color it imparts.
Nutmeg Seed: It is roughly egg-shaped, about 20mm to 30 mm (1inch) long and 15 mm to 18 mm (3/4 inch) wide, and weighing between 5g and 10g (1/4 ounce and ½ ounce.
Nutmeg Oil: Essential oil of nutmeg is obtained by steam distillation of ground nutmeg. The oil is colorless or light yellow and smell and taste like nutmeg. This oil is used in perfume, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries, it is also used as a natural food flavoring in baked goods, syrups, and beverages.
Nutmeg Butter: Butter is obtained from the nut by expression. It is semi-solid, reddish brown in color, and has the tastes and smells of nutmeg.
Nutmeg Health Benefits:
- Nutmeg oil is potent brain booster, increasing circulation and allowing you to concentrate better. It also works by stimulating the brain and therefore removes mental exhaustion and stress.
- Nutmeg oil also stimulates the cardiovascular system and therefore is a good tonic for the heart.
- Nutmeg is an effective liver and kidney detoxifier.
- Nutmeg powder heated on the pan with sesame oil until brown is an effective external application to relieve any rheumatic pain, neuralgia and sciatica. The oil should be cooled and strained before application.
- Nutmeg oil is also effective in treating menstrual cramps, muscular and joint pain as it is an excellent sedative.
- Nutmeg can help clear up congestion due to colds, this is the reason why it is used in many cough syrups.
- Nutmeg powder (about 5 to 15 grams), mixed with apple juice or banana, is used as a specific remedy for diarrhea caused by indigestion.
- A regular massage of the abdomen with nutmeg oil, three weeks before delivery is believed to be very helpful for child birth.
- Nutmeg paste mixed with honey is given to infants who cry at night for no apparent reason, to induce sleep.
- Nutmeg oil or powder mixed with a half-boiled egg and honey, makes an excellent sex tonic.
- Nutmeg oil helps in removing bad breath. It is also antiseptic in nature and is effective for toothaches and aching gums.
Preparation and Storage: Whole nuts are preferable to ground nutmeg, as flavor deteriorates quickly. Whole nuts will keep indefinitely and can be grated as required with a nutmeg grater. Store both ground and whole nutmeg away from sunlight in airtight containers.
Nutmeg Side Effects: Large dosage (30 grams which is about 6 tablespoons a day) of nutmeg can be toxic, producing disorientation, double vision and convulsions, but these side effect with not be produce even with generous amount in culinary usage.