Not to be confused with its sister spice, mace, nutmeg is the seed of the fruit of a tropical evergreen tree. (Mace is the
dried membrane found around the nutmeg seed.) Nutmeg has a spicy, nutty flavor that works well in cakes, cookies, and cream-based
How to Choose Nutmeg
It’s best to buy whole nutmeg and grate it as needed. The surface should be rough without any holes. If you need large quantities, pre-ground nutmeg will do.
How to Store Nutmeg
When stored properly, ground nutmeg can last up to 2 years and whole nutmeg up to 3 years. Both should be stored in airtight containers away from light and heat. Faded color or diminished aroma or taste usually indicates that the spice is old and should be replaced.
How to Prepare Nutmeg
Whole nutmeg can be ground with a nutmeg grater, microplane rasp, or a nutmeg grinder, which can double as a storage container for the seeds. You can also use the smallest holes of a box grater.
Avoid sprinkling ground nutmeg directly from its container into a hot or steaming pot. The steam can hasten the loss of the remaining flavor and aroma in the spice. Taste and smell the spice before adding it to your dish. Older spices will have lost some flavor, so you may need to use more in the recipe.
How to Use Nutmeg
Nutmeg adds a dash of sweet and spicy flavor to creamy soups, holiday eggnog, and custards. It also pairs well with potatoes, spinach, and squash. Cinnamon, ginger, or allspice can substitute for nutmeg in sweet recipes.
—Stephanie Southworth Geary
Real Simple Nutmeg Recipes:
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