It wasn't until I was introduced to fresh grated nutmeg, that I got nutmeg. The pre-grated stuff that comes out of a jar is bitter, uninspiring, and maybe just plain awful. Once you try fresh-grated nutmeg, you will become a fan. Nutmeg is an interesting spice because is can be used for both savory and sweet recipes. Nutmeg is used throughout the world in a wide variety of dishes including: potatoes gratin, cauliflower, rice, pasta, sausage, apple sauce, pumpkin pie, various Caribbean cocktails and eggnog.
Nutmeg history, importance and a not-so pretty past
Indigenous to Indonesia, nutmeg has been an important trade item since ancient times. Due to its high value, nutmeg has been the cause of bloody wars and enslavement of innocent populations.
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Toxic in large quantities
Nutmeg is toxic in large quantities, inducing nausea, diarrhea, body-wide pain, heart palpitations, hallucinations and in a couple documented cases, death. If you are a knucklehead, and use nutmeg to get high, you have been forewarned and get what you deserve. From what I have read, nutmeg poisoning is a long-lasting and miserable experience. Nutmeg should never be given to pets.
A little goes a long way. For culinary uses, small amounts of nutmeg is safe, with most multi-portion recipes calling for 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg.
How to grate nutmeg
The best way to grate nutmeg is with an inexpensive nutmeg grater or a fine microplane spice grater. Or any fine microplane grater.
Where to buy fresh nutmeg
Many grocery stores carry fresh nutmeg in their spice section. It is generally more available during the fall and winter. You can also buy it at the Savory Spice Shop, my new favorite store. They have many locations throughout the US. I happen to be lucky to live a couple miles from one of their stores. But you can also purchase their spices online.