Our nutmeg is encased in the shell, nature’s own means of preservation. Fascinatingly, the nutmeg tree delivers two spices- nutmeg and mace. The fruit of this tree is not a fruit in the traditional sense of the term, but a bulb containing the nutmeg seed. Outside of it all is a thick protective shell that opens up when the nuts ripen. It is a fascinating sight when the shell cracks and reveals the red blossom and the dark nut within.
Nutmeg is a popular spice used in stews and sauces, perhaps most known for its use in bechamel sauce for lasagna. The nutmeg flower is, however, less commonly used- whole in stews, marinades, stocks and in powdered form in Quatre-epices, croquettes and sausages. The taste is a little less powerful than the nut and has a slightly sweet undertone, which makes it an ideal spice for cakes and other desserts.
Nutmeg and mace are essential in Garam Masala, a classic Indian spice mix. Our nutmeg and mace come from the village cooperative in Pilimathalawa and the nuts are contained in the shell to preserve flavour and aroma. The mace is whole and is slightly orange-red.
Nutmeg: Cut the nuts in small pieces or grate directly into the pan. Mace: Use it whole or tear it into small pieces.
A mortar or a coffee grinder can be used to powder the nutmeg.