Let us reintroduce you to the spice you might’ve thought you had all figured out. For many of us in the US, nutmeg might beckon fond memories of Holiday treats and cozy, snowy nights. But did you know that some of this seed’s story is actually quite tragic and tropical? The evergreen fruit trees from which the whole nutmeg seed comes from (Myristica fragrans) are native to the warm and sultry Spice Islands of Indonesia, and sadly, since the 1500’s, many bloody wars have been waged to control production and distribution of this now-ubiquitous little pit.
Traditionally in Indonesia, the fleshy fruit that surrounds the whole nutmeg seed is often sliced, generously sprinkled with palm sugar, and crystallized to yield a chewy sweet-smelling candy. The fruit can also be pressed, blended, or boiled to make a classic Penang refresher called iced nutmeg juice. Fun fact: the cherry red, web-like casing around the seed is removed and dried to become the spice we know as Mace. We’re tellin’ ya, everything gets used here. We love a no-waste moment!
In your own kitchen, the warm and inviting flavour of whole nutmeg is really quite versatile. Try not only adding a dash of nutty goodness to sweet stand-bys like Welsh Cookies or Eggnog, but also to savory faves like juicy seared pork chops, rich béchamel sauce, or creamy butternut squash soup. Just know that no matter what dishes you dream up, this woody little workhorse will be there for ya.