Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)
Nutmeg is the only spice that shares itself with another spice. That spice is mace, which is the crimson aril that covers the seed. This spice has a warmer, sweeter flavour than mace and an aromatic aroma. Once harvested the kernel is dried and split to reveal the mace and the nutmeg seed.
This spice is used in many different cuisines from around the world. It is very popular in countries and areas such as the Middle East, Europe, Indonesia, India, Japan, USA and the Caribbean. When using this spice it is normally best used whole and freshly grated or ground as, this way, the flavour is more acute and fresh tasting.
Pain and anti-inflammatory relief- This spice has been used widely over the years as a pain relief remedy. According to studies It is really effective for inflammatory pain related issues, such as arthritis, joint pain, swelling, sores and muscle pain. The anti-inflammatory pain relieving properties found in the oil contained in this spice are myristicin, elemicin, safrole and eugnol.
Aids digestion- For decades this spice has been used on or with food to help ease digestion by optimising digestive health. It aids digestion and also according to studies can help to treat some stomach ulcers.
Vitamins- A, C, Folates, Niacin, Pyridoxine, Riboflavin, Thaimin.
Minerals- Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, manganese, Phosphorous, Zinc, Potassium, Sodium.
You can buy it either as the whole seed or in a ground powdered form. Both of these can often come in a handy jar or bottle that fits into your spice rack at home. When storing this spice it is best to keep it in an airtight container and out of direct sunshine or even in a cupboard where the darker, cooler condition suits it well.
Using Nutmeg whole is usually done by grating it or grinding it to produce an aromatic powder that can then be used in your cooking. Equally, using the pre ground powder is also fantastic and is often a convenient substitute. One down side to using the pre ground powder is that it can lose some of its flavour.
This is a great spice to add to many different dishes and is very versatile. It can be used in savoury or sweet dishes. It tends to be used with soups, stews, curries, various meats, sauces, vegetables, baked dishes and desserts.
It is also an important ingredient in a delicious drink called Eggnog!
I like to use Nutmeg in soups and stews as it can give great flavour and really add some depth to the flavour of what ever your cooking. One of our favourites is a delicious pumpkin and chorizo sausage soup using nutmeg.
Serves 4-6 people
500 grams pumpkin peeled and chopped into chunks, seeds removed
50 grams chorizo sausages sliced and chopped
1 large onion diced
1 large carrot peeled and chopped
5 large cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 litre of water
2 chicken stock cubes
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg powder
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.
Put a large pan onto a medium to high heat and add the oil. When hot add the onions and cook until soft. This usually takes around 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and the chorizo and cook for a further 5 minutes. Now add the carrots giving it a good stir.
Add the water and the pumpkin and bring to the boil. Once boiled turn the heat down to a gentle simmer. Now add the stock cubes, again giving it a good stir to dissolve the cubes. Now add the salt and pepper to taste and finally the nutmeg. Cook until the carrots and pumpkin are soft.
Remove from the heat and blend it until smooth using a stick blender or pouring the soup into a blender.
Serve with some fresh bread, yummy!