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Articles - A Healthy Diet:

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Use in the kitchen

Fiery, spicy, slightly bitter and strongly aromatic – this is the nutmeg. The exotic kitchen spice enhances pale soups and sauces, stews and vegetables such as spinach, turnip, leeches and cauliflower. A sprinkling of nutmeg gives potato puree, pasta and quiche, fish, venison and lamb a special flavour and makes cheese fondue even more savoury. The sharp flavour goes well even with sweet dishes such as cookies, fruit salad, plum compote, pancakes and ice-cream. During the colder months, fruit punch and cocoa spiced with spicy nutmeg warms from within.

 

Origin and appearance

The nutmeg tree comes from Indonesia, but is now cultivated in tropical regions around the world. It’s an evergreen tree that can reach up to 20 metres in height. In plantations it usually only grows to between five and six metres. Inside the fruit, similar in appearance to the apricot, is a round seed covered by a reddish, fleshy coating. Once ripe, the coating bursts open and releases the seed. The seed case is dried and sold as mace. The name “nutmeg” is given to the brownish seeds with their net-like surface. Cut through the middle, the nut typically appears marbled. Mace has a finer flavour than the nutmeg, but is less at home in German kitchens. It is, however, a traditional ingredient in the famous Weisswurst (veal sausage) from Munich.

 

Therapeutic use and storage

Quite likely it was Arabian traders who introduced the nutmeg to Europe. During the middle ages, it was much sought after as a healing herb. Regular consumption, for example, is supposed to strengthen the digestive system, have an anti-bacterial effect, improve mental performance and calm the nerves. Even today, a glass of hot milk with nutmeg is a good home remedy for insomnia.


As the flavour is very intensive, the spice should be used sparingly. It’s best to buy whole nuts, grate them shortly before the meal is ready and then add them to the finished dish. The flavour is lost after just a short while. Stored air tight, cool and in a dark place, nutmeg will keep for two or three years.


Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de