Nutmeg is obtained from a few species of trees belonging to the genus Myristica, with Myristica fragrans being the most popular one. It’s an evergreen tree that grows in the Maluku Islands of Indonesia, where the locals also call it pala. The nutmeg is actually the seed of the tree. It has an egg-like shape with 15-18 mm width, 20-30mm length, and weight ranging from 5 to 10g when dried. The seeds also have a ruddy colored “lacy” cover called mace, which too is used for spicing, however it has a bit more delicate taste, and is used in lighter dishes. Nutmeg trees are usually ready for original harvesting between 7 and 9 years upon planting. They reach full growth and production potential after 20 years.
Here’s how whole nutmeg seeds look like
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And here’s how a nutmeg tree and its fruits look like
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Today many professional chefs and cooking admirers all over the world don’t miss including nutmeg in their pantry as part of their seasoning assortment, because this prominent spice adds a really distinguishing flavor to some dishes, usually in grated or ground form, which is exactly the case with this ground organic nutmeg by Jiva Organics. Not only is it ready to use whenever you need it, but the more important thing is that you’ll get to enjoy the authentic taste and purity of organically grown nutmeg.
Culinary use of nutmeg
The strong, nutty and slightly-sweet flavor of nutmeg allows for coking flexibility, as the premium spice is used in both savory and sweet dishes, especially in the Indian Mughlai cuisine, and in the condiment blend called Garam Masala. All over the world, this delectable spice is used for the making of puddings, pies, cookies, custards, spicy cakes etc. It matches particularly well with a variety of chesses, cheese sauces, and souffles. Another type of dish that nutmeg fits perfectly in, are vegetable soups that involve tomatoes, black beans, and slit peas. Other veggies that get even more delicious with nutmeg are: cabbage, broccoli, spinach, eggplant, onions and more.
Europeans also like to use nutmeg in potato recipes, baked goods, and savory sauces. Japanese cuisine tends to include ground nutmeg in their curry powders. In Holland, the nutmeg is highly popular too, as it is also paired with cauliflower, beans, and Brussels sprouts.
Nutmeg butter, that is made from the nut through expression, can be used as a substitute for cocoa butter, blended with other fats like palm oil and cottonseed oil. Nutmeg butter has a red-brown color, half-solid texture, it tastes and smells exactly as the regular nutmeg. About 75% of its weight is trimyristin, which is transformed into a 14 carbon fatty acid (that is namely used as a cocoa butter replacement).
Nutmeg’s beneficial oil can be used instead of the ground form when you want to add a dash of distinct flavor to syrups, baked eatables, sweets, and certain beverages.
Nutrition facts and health benefits of nutmeg
The seed of organic nutmeg is a good source of manganese, as a serving size of 7g delivers 10% of the recommended daily value for this trace mineral. The same amount of the spice provides smaller daily values for copper, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, calcium, and zinc. The vitamins found present in the chemical composition of nutmeg are mostly B group vitamins like thiamin, folate, and vitamin B6, but they’re also in smaller amounts. It’s also worth noting that both manganese and copper contain a particular antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase, which is known to help repair DNA cells, and lower the oxidative stress the same cells are exposed to.
Nutmeg is a host of phytosterols which have antioxidant character, and are the reason for the taste and scent of this incredible spice. We’re talking about nutmeg’s essential volatile oils like trimyristin, (which we already mentioned above), eugenol (used for soothing tooth aches, joint and muscle pain), elemicin and myristicin (which sooth and stimulate certain brain areas). Other volatile oils in nutmeg are:, pinene, camphene, linalool, safrole, dipentene, terpeniol, cineole, and sabinene. All of these essential oils have the ability to release compounds on their own, which have antifungal, antibacterial, antidepressant, and gas-inhibitive qualities.
The flavonoid antioxidants beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin are part of nutmeg’s nutritional value too. Beta-carotene is a type of carotenoid that is labeled as a provitamin because of its ability to transform into vitamin A, a.k.a retinol. Retinol is important for good for eye development and vision preservation. Experiments also show that people who’ve been taking beta-carotene supplements have lower risk for cognitive decline. Furthermore, this constituent has shown potential for treating sunburn and oral leukoplakia. On the flipside though, there isn’t sufficient proof that beta-carotene is fully effective against solar skin damage, wart formation, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, cataracts or infection with H. Pylori.
Beta-cryptoxanthin too belongs to the division of carotenoids, and more specifically to xanthophylls. Like beta-carotene, cryptoxanthin is also converted to retinol, and inherits its vision-promoting properties. To boot, this carotenoid has shown tendency to reduce colon cancer chance, lung cancer risk by 30%, as well as the ability to reduce the risk for rheumatoid arthritis by 41%.
Let’s not forget that the minerals and vitamins in nutmeg also have their fundamental functions. For instance iron and zinc are responsible for the creation of new blood cells, potassium is good for controlling blood pressure and the heart rate. B complex vitamins have a major role in brain health, the nervous and cardiovascular systems, energy levels, and metabolism.
As great a spice nutmeg is, you should be cautious with the amounts you consume. The reason for this hides in nutmeg’s compound myristicin. Myristicin pertains to a group of compounds bearing psychoactive potential, plus it is related to safrole (another volatile oil in nutmeg) in terms of intoxicating effects. When using in smaller amounts for recipes, nutmeg is considered safe, but please, do consider that overusing could cause narcotic-like side effects, especially when combined with other drugs or too much alcohol.