What is Nutmeg?

Nutmeg is one of the best-known fragrant spices. It is the name given to the kernel of the fruit of a tropical tree. Most nutmegs come from the East Indies, Molucca or Spice Island and Brazil. There are about 80 species of nutmeg trees and shurbs. The most common, whose botanical name is Myristica mochata, is a hand-some evergreen  with a straight trunk about 7 meters high.

It is covered with branches from base to tip. The flowers are small and yellow, with a perfume like lilies of a the valley. After about eight years of growth, the tree begins bearing fruit. The tree blooms and bears fruit in continuous succession all the year round, but the principal harvest occur about three times a year. The fruit is about the size and shape of a pear. When ripe it is golden yellow in colour. The fruits open in halves.

Inside is a red, fleshy part called "the mace" and the nut-likes seed. Inside this seed is the portion of the nutmeg used as a spice. After the nuts are separated  from the mace. They are dried in ovens until the kernels rattle in the shell. Then the sells are removed. Although nutmegs are usually exported while still whole in order to retain their flavor, they are used for flavoring food only after they have been grated.


Nuts that are considered inferior are ground and the oils are extracted. This is called "oil of mace" or "nutmeg butter".

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