The Nutmeg

The nutmeg tree produces two spices, namely nutmeg and mace.  Nutmeg is the egg-shaped seed while mace is the reddish covering of the seed.  Nutmeg and mace are sold separately.  Nutmegs are sold either whole or ground while mace is sold in blades and its powder form.  When it comes to flavor, nutmeg is slightly sweeter than mace.
 
There was a time that nutmeg was considered with high value.  As stories were told, even a few pieces of nutmeg can be traded for a huge amount of money. 

There will be no problem anytime you want to buy or use nutmeg since nutmeg is available all year round.  A fresh nutmeg can be determined by trying to find at least a tiny drop of oil seeping out of the seed. 

Most chefs prefer to store whole nutmeg than ground ones.  This is because the flavor of nutmeg quickly deteriorates.  They should be stored in an airtight container, away from sunlight.  There is no need to store nutmeg inside the freezer since doing so  will not extend its shelf life.  It will just quickly loose its flavor and aroma.  That is why it is advisable to grate nutmeg as needed.  It can be added once the dish is almost done since heat decreases its flavor.

Not only that it tastes good but is also good for the health.  Nutmeg has a lot of health benefits.  Its oil can be used to treat arthritis and toothache.  It can also be taken to relieve stomach pain.  It can also be used for massaging sore muscles.  Used in small dosages, nutmeg can also reduce flatulence, diarrhea, vomiting and nausea.  It also helps stimulate the cardiovascular system and is good for the heart.  It also helps in reducing bad breath. Nutmeg powder can also cure eczema and ringworm.  Although it has been said to treat stomach illnesses, it is still necessary to consult a doctor before trying any other remedies.

Nutmeg is not a nut and people with allergies associated to eating nuts can safely eat foods with nutmeg.  Nutmeg can also cause allergies but that would be a very rare case. Nutmeg has a warm, sweet and spicy flavor. Despite the flavor that it can bring to your special dishes, nutmeg should be used in moderation due to its tendency of being poisonous.  A pinch or two of nutmeg is safe and will result to a good savory dish.

Nutmeg can be used in both sweet and savory recipes.  It can be used to add flavor to cookies, cakes, soups and other recipes.  Nutmeg is an essential ingredient to Bechamel Sauce and is really good with baked or stewed fruits.  It is also good to use with onion based and milk sauces.  Mace can be a substitute for nutmeg but will definitely have a different flavor because of their different levels of sweetness.

Your collection of spices will never be complete without nutmeg.  A dish with nutmeg will truly bring warmth and smiles to the ones eating it.

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