Nutmeg on My Mind

Nootmuskaat [Day 68/365]
The other night, we were watching a food travel program about Grenada and it’s growth, use, and export of nutmeg (nootmuskaat in Dutch). We learned quite a bit about a spice we take for granted. I didn’t realize it was such an important part of Grenada’s history and economy. I also didn’t really understand how it grew. It seems it grows in a fruit, technically as a seed rather than a nut, and the nutmeg itself is encase in mace. It’s the only fruit/tree that produces two separate spices. I was surprised by the mace, too, because it’s a spice I know of, but had never seen in its natural form, particularly when it’s fresh and looks like a lacy red plastic!

There’s a Dutch connection to all of this. The Netherlands and Germany are the biggest importers of crushed/ground nutmeg and mace. Considering the Dutch mercantile/trade history, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that much of the nutmeg that is imported into the Netherlands is then exported to the US. The Dutch have a long history with the spice, through their Dutch East India Company.They led the way in nutmeg trade in the 17th century, going up against the Portuguese and British for control of the market. This is an interesting article about the Dutch relationship to the spice and the desire to control its export, as well as history on how this little seed played a part in the Dutch deals over Manhattan.

Nowadays, the Dutch still use a lot of nutmeg, both in sweet dishes like the appeltaart, as well as more savory dishes, such as Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, and my favorite use, spinach.

10 thoughts on “Nutmeg on My Mind

    • Just add in a few dashes of ground nutmeg to cooked spinach. It’s one of those things that you don’t necessarily taste, but you know there’s a little something different. I always add it to any cooked spinach dish.

  1. I’ve never found myself jumping on board with the nutmeg on veggies here. I just don’t care for it!

    I highly recommend buying the whole nutmegs and grating them yourself. It’s so much better than the preground stuff!

    • I tend to leave it out of my mashed potatoes, even though I know it’s popular here. It’s a flavor I’m just not used to in that dish, so I don’t even think about it usually. I’ve added it to spinach for years, although I don’t use enough in my spinach to make it sweet or particularly noticeable. I’ve got a light hand when it comes to using it in savory dishes. But yeah, I can see how it wouldn’t appeal to everyone.

      I know, I really should grate my own. Kay from Kayotic Kitchen was teasing me about that. It’s just so much easier to grab the bottle and give it one or two shakes than to pull out the nutmeg and the grater, which is usually buried under a ton of other kitchen utensils. πŸ˜‰

  2. How interesting! I didn’t know how important the spice was in Grenada. As you say, it doesn’t come as a surprise to know that the NL is the biggest importer of the spice, given its past… it’s made its way into Dutch cooking, like many other spices they collected from around the world.
    I like it in my cheese sauce, white sauce or in a mash. Also use it in the filling for pasta, depending on what the main ingredients of the stuffing for raviolli, etc., are.

    • Cheese sauce and white sauce! Those are the other two things that I regularly put it in! I was trying to remember what other dishes I use it in where you don’t necessarily expect it.

      I really enjoyed the program I was watching, particularly since I was learning so much about the ingredient and the location. It’s rare that I come across a tv program that informative on an ingredient I’m already familiar with.

  3. I love Nootmuskaat! thank you for this post, it’s great to read about this… very interesting πŸ˜€ I’m going to read the nootmuskaat-Manhattan story in a moment!

    • Glad you enjoyed it! I thought it was interesting too, especially for something you wouldn’t expect to be so complicated and fraught with history!

  4. Wow I loved this post! I love using nutmeg in my meatloaf..adds a nice little something to it. I’ve never used it in mashed potatoes or spinach but Im going to give that a shot!

    P.S. I never grate my own either..I just get the powder form! LOL

    • Using it in ground beef actually makes a lot of sense, especially when I remember that it’s one of the ingredients in the Dutch gehaktballen recipe. I should remember that more often. It’s a bit of a relief to know I’m not the only one who takes the easy way out with the ground stuff. πŸ˜‰

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