What Is Nutmeg, and What Uses Does It Have?


Quick Answer

Nutmeg is a spice native to the Spice Islands of Indonesia. It is the seed of the nutmeg tree and found inside of a fruit. The seed is ground into spice for use in cooking. Nutmeg is most familiar in the West as the main ingredient in pumpkin pie spice.

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What Is Nutmeg, and What Uses Does It Have?
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Full Answer

Nutmeg is not just a pumpkin pie spice. In the Middle East, chefs use it in many soups and savory lamb dishes. In Asia, it is a popular spice used in Japanese curry and is used in numerous Indian dishes. Merchants imported the spice to Europe in the 1500s, and English, Scottish and Dutch cuisine make use of it liberally. Nutmeg is sprinkled on rice pudding and added to vegetables such as potatoes or Brussels sprouts.

It is a popular ingredient in mulled hot drinks and eggnog. The fruit of the nutmeg tree is also edible. In Indonesia, the fruit is candied with sugar to make a sweet called manisan pala. Cooks also prepare a jam from the fruit called selai buah pala. Nutmeg butter, an essential oil, is made by squeezing the nutmeg seed. The oil is used as a condiment and used to add scent to toothpaste, cough syrups, soaps and perfumes.

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