A native to the Spice Islands, this is one of the sought-after
spices that Columbus sailed the ocean blue in search of. These
days, Indonesia and Grenada are the world's main sources of
mace and nutmeg. Mace is often mentioned
alongside nutmeg because both spices actually come from the
same fruit. Nutmeg comes from the nut of the fruit's dried
pit, while mace is the thick membrane which surrounds the
While mace is generally restricted to savory dishes, nutmeg
is well suited to both sweet and savory fare.
Nutmeg tastes like the holidays, and most people add it
to holiday spirits like mulled wine, eggnog and cider, as
its warm, sweet flavor is a pleasant addition. In addition
to holiday beverages, baked sweets and puddings, nutmeg is
often paired with cheese dishes and fillings and creamy sauces.
Also try adding it to creamed spinach and mashed potatoes.
Nutmeg is available both whole and ground. The nut is especially
hard, so you'll need a little elbow grease and a nutmeg grater
if you want it freshly grated. But the flavor is phenomenal,
so it's well worth the trouble, especially for use in mild
dishes like puddings and cheese sauces. If you don't have
a nutmeg grater, use the smallest grate on a regular grater.
For a convenient compromise, buy nutmeg in one of the new
grater bottles, which feature chipped nutmeg pieces in a bottle
with a grinder lid, which works like a pepper grinder.