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Nutmeg is a herb that is often associated with Christmas, it has a sweet and slightly sharp taste that can add perfectly to a sweet bread from a bread maker, or even a hot beverage. Use it with cinnamon and you can create some delicious recipes using your bakeware set. This one definitely belongs in your spice racks, and in this post, we’re going to find out why.
Nutmeg is actually closely related to mace. That’s because mace is the coating (which has a lacey consistency) that is found on nutmeg. The two have a similar flavor, but nutmeg itself is generally a little less pungent and has a slightly more bitter flavor.
Nutmeg has a long history and its earliest mentions can be found all the way back in the first century AD. Here, we find the Roman writer Pliny describing a tree that bears nuts with ‘two flavors’. By the 6th century, the Arab merchants were selling the herb in Constantinople. This trade continued into the 14th century, at which point the value had gone up to ‘three sheep or one cow’. In fact, this spice is so valuable, that wars have been fought over it!
Nutmeg Uses in Cooking
Nutmeg as mentioned is very popular when it comes to creating Christmas-themed treats. It is generally used in a lot of sweet, warming bakes. For instance, you might find it in donuts, puddings, muffins, cakes, gingerbread men, and more. It can also be used to make spiced drinks like Christmas chai lattes.
What might surprise you though, is that nutmeg can also be used in a number of savory dishes, including numerous cheese-based meals. It finds its way into soufflé, stock pots, and even pasta on occasion. It is commonly found in Caribbean cookbooks.
Nutmeg Use and Tips
Like many herbs and spices, you can buy nutmeg in one of two forms: ground or whole. Whole nutmeg is a small stone that is roughly the size of an Apricot stone. This will need to be shaved off in order to be used – which you can accomplish using a cheese grater and a cutting board.
The best part about whole nutmeg is that it has an indefinite shelf-life. That means you can keep it in a cupboard and then simply shave it as you need it. Nutmeg has a very strong flavor, so you won’t need a lot for each dish. That in turn means that it will last a long time.
Be careful when using nutmeg! If you use extremely high quantities it can actually be toxic. What’s more is that it has hallucinogenic properties. While extremely rare, it’s actually possible for nutmeg to be fatal. That said, the good news is that nutmeg is not considered a nut – despite its name and its appearance. What that means is that you can use it even if you have a nut allergy!
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