Nutmeg is powdered spice that is commonly used in cuisine. It has a warm, spicy flavor that makes it a favorite in many people’s kitchens. As with most spices nutmeg is best grated fresh and is used in a variety of ways. Nutmeg was once a very valuable spice because it was only being produced in one small area. It quickly became highly sort after and was used throughout the European world as a flavoring, medicinal product and a preservation agent.
Where does nutmeg come from?
Nutmeg is a brown, egg-shaped seed that comes from the several species of tree in the genus Myristica. These same trees also produce the spice mace. A nutmeg seed is approximately 2-3 cm (0.8-1 in.) long and 1.5-1.8 cm (0.6-0.7 in.) wide. They weigh approximately 5-10g (0.2-0.4 oz) when dried. Nutmeg trees are usually ready to harvest between 5-7 years after planting and mature fully at 20 years when they reach full production.
Fragrant nutmeg is derived from an evergreen tree that originated in the Banda islands of Indonesia. The Banda islands are ten small volcanic islands about 1,243 miles (2,000 km) east of Java. These islands were the world’s only source of nutmeg until the mid 19th century. The Myristica fragrans, fragrant Nutmeg tree, is now also grown on Pandang Island in Malaysia and in the Caribbean, particularly in Granada. Other species of the nutmeg tree, M. Argentea and M. malabarica are grown in New Guinea and India. This type of nutmeg is used as an illegal substitute for real nutmeg.
An average of 10,000 and 12,000 tonnes of nutmeg is produce worldwide each year. The world’s biggest producers of nutmeg are Indonesia and Granada, with Indonesia producing 75% of the world’s nutmeg and Granada producing 20%. Other countries such as India, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, and Sri Lanka also produce nutmeg.