Fresh Whole NutmegOnce it is ground, nutmeg soon loses the oils which provide its flavor and taste, so grating fresh nutmeg is recommended to achieve the full benefit of the fresh oils. A nutmeg grater should be a part of basic equipment in every kitchen, but if you do not have one, use the finest blade on a larger hand-held manual grater. The difference between fresh nutmeg and commercially-ground is like night and day.
Testing for good quality fresh nutmegs is as easy as inserting a darning needle a centimeter into the meat; if a tiny drop of oil seeps out, the nut is good. Freshly-grated nutmeg should ideally be added at the end of the cooking process, since heat diminishes the flavor.
Nutmeg StorageWhole fresh nutmegs, as well as ground nutmeg and mace, should be kept in a tightly-sealed jar or container in a cool, dark place. Wrap leftover fresh nutmeg tightly so the oils are not lost.
Cooking with NutmegSlightly sweeter than mace, nutmeg is essential to bechamel sauce and also goes well with baked or stewed fruit, custards, eggnog, punches, curries, sauces (particularly onion-based and milk sauces), pasta, and vegetables (especially spinach).
One whole nutmeg grated yields 2 to 3 teaspoons of ground nutmeg. Mace may be substituted for nutmeg in a pinch and vice versa, but obviously the flavor of the end result will be affected as with any substitution.
More About Nutmeg and Mace with Recipes:• Nutmeg Selection, Storage, and Cooking Tips
• What is mace? Mace Information FAQ
• Nutmeg and Health - Warning!
• Nutmeg and Mace History
• Nutmeg Lore and Legends
• Nutmeg Recipes
• Mace Recipes
Nutmeg Photo © 2009 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.
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