Myristica fragrans (Nutmeg)

Myristica fragrans (The Common or Fragrant Nutmeg) is the most important commercial species in genus Myristica. Myristica is a genus of about 330 species of trees in the family Myristicaceae. Myristica fragrans is native to Banda Islands in the Moluccas of Indonesia, and is grown in Penang Island in Malaysia, Grenada in the Caribbean, and Kerala in southern India.

The evergreen nutmeg tree starts producing fruits after 7-9 years of planting, and reached full production after 20 years. It is the only tropical fruit that is the source of two different spices. The nutmeg tree is important for two spices it derived from the fruit, nutmeg and mace.

Nutmeg is the actual seed of the tree. It is egg-shaped, 2-3 cm long and 1.5-1.8 cm wide, and weigh between 5-10 grams when dried. Mace is the red lacy covering or aril of the seed. Nutmeg and mace have similar taste qualities, nutmeg has a slightly sweeter and mace a more delicate flavor. The mace is often preferred in light dishes for the bright-orange, saffron-like hue it imparts.

In Penang, the pericarp or flesh of the nutmeg fruit is made into pickles, or blended to make into a refreshing nutmeg juice or boiled with rock sugar to make nutmeg syrup.

In India, nutmeg is used in many sweet as well as savory dishes, especially in Mughlai cuisine. It is known as Jaiphal in most parts of India, and as Jatipatri and Jathi seed in Kerala. Small amount of ground nutmeg is also added to garam masala.

Ground nutmeg is often used in cooking and savory dishes in Middle Eastern, Greece and Cyprus. It can also add into potato dishes, meat products, soups, sauces, and baked goods. In Dutch cuisine, nutmeg powder is added to vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and string beans. It is also an ingredient in Japanese varieties of curry powder.

Nutmeg is also a traditional ingredient in mulled cider, mulled wine, and eggnog. In the Caribbean, nutmeg is often added as sprinkle to drinks such as the Bushwacker, Painkiller, and Barbados rum punch.

The pericarp or flesh of nutmeg is made into a jam called 'Morne Delice' in Grenada, and 'selei buah pala' in Indonesia.

Steam distillation of ground nutmeg produces essential oil which is widely used in the perfumery and pharmaceutical industries. The essential oil is colorless or light yellow, with smell and taste of nutmeg. The oil is used as a natural food flavoring in baked goods, syrups, beverages, and sweets, to replace ground nutmeg as it leaves no particles in the food. The essential oil is also used in cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries, such as in toothpaste, and as a major ingredient in some cough syrups. Nutmeg and nutmeg oils are used in traditional medicine for treating disorders related to the nervous and digestive systems. Nutmeg is reputed to be a strong deliriant, and contains myristicin, a weak monoamine oxidase inhibitor. Myristicin poisoning can induce convulsions, palpitations, nausea, eventual dehydration, and body pain.

Myristica fragrans (The Common or Fragrant Nutmeg)Myristica fragrans (The Common or Fragrant Nutmeg)
Author: Wie146 (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

Opened fruit, showing its mace and seed (inside)Opened fruit, showing its mace and seed (inside)
Author: Wie146 (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

Whole seed minus the maceWhole seed minus the mace
Author: Miansari66 (public domain)

The seeds are ready for useThe seeds are ready for use
Author: H. Zell (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

Ground nutmegGround nutmeg
Author: Jorge Barrios (public domain)

Author: H. Zell (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

Commercial jar of nutmeg maceCommercial jar of nutmeg mace
Author: KVDP (public domain)

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