Saturday, July 4, 2015

Nutmeg and Mace

Did you know that the nutmeg fruit produces not one but two spices?

We all know the nutmeg that we like to grind up and sprinkle on the top of our painkillers, but back in the day when the spice trade drove the discovery of the West Indies, the spice of mace ruled big-time.  For some reason mace has declined so that few people use it today, but based on a little bit of reading, I am primed to try some in my next batch of baking.

When we were out with Winston the other day, I was lucky enough to score my first fresh-from-the-tree nutmeg.  He told me it was "amateur" so I didn't expect to get much out of the fruit, but curiosity reigned so I cut into it.  I'm totally thrilled to report that I found a beautiful nutmeg, covered in it's lacy outer skin of mace, both of which I will dry for use in our galley.

Here's what it looked like...

I cut open the woody fruit to find the mace covered nutmeg inside.

Removed the nutmeg and mace from the fruit.

Peeled the 'blades' of mace from the nutmeg.  I'd also picked up a dried nutmeg from the ground - the seed inside rattles so hopefully it is good too.

I cracked open the dried nutmeg and there was a beautiful ready-to-use nutmeg seed inside.
And there we have it - the wonders of nutmeg.

In follow up, if you have never used fresh ground nutmeg it is completely different to the spice you buy in jars in the grocery store.  This goes for most herbs and spices, but the lightness (almost fluffiness) and aroma of fresh-ground nutmeg just can't be beat.