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home > food & wine dictionary > nutmeg

Food and Wine Dictionary

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When Columbus sailed from Spain looking for the East Indies, nutmeg was one of the spices for which he was searching. Native tothe Spice Islands, this seed from the nutmeg tree (a tropical evergreen) wasextremely popular throughout much of the world from the 15th to the 19th century.When the fruit of the tree is picked, it is split to reveal the nutmeg seedsurrounded by a lacy membrane that, when dried and ground, becomes the spiceMACE. The hard, egg-shapednutmeg seed is grayish-brown and about 1 inch long. The flavor and aroma aredelicately warm, spicy and sweet. Nutmeg is sold ground or whole. Whole nutmegfreshly ground with a NUTMEG GRATER or GRINDERis superior to that which is commercially ground and packaged. Nutmeg isexcellent when used in baked goods, milk- or cream-based preparations likecustards, white sauces or eggnog and on fruits and vegetables — particularlypotatoes, spinach and squash. See also  SPICES; HERB AND SPICE CHART.

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Material adapted from the The New Food Lover's Companion

© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on
THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.

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