About 100 species, including:Myristica argentea Myristica fragrans Myristica inutilis Myristica leptophylla Myristica malabarica Myristica macrophylla Myristica otoba Myristica platysperma Myristica sinclairii Myristica fragrans tree in Goa, India. Nutmegs in a tree, Kerala, India
Nutmeg is several species of trees in genus Myristica. The most important commercial species is Myristica fragrans, an evergreen tree indigenous to the Banda Islands in the Moluccas of Indonesia, or Spice Islands. The nutmeg tree is important for two spices derived from the fruit, nutmeg and mace.
Nutmeg is the actual seed of the tree, roughly egg-shaped and about 20 to 30 mm (0.8 to 1 in) long and 15 to 18 mm (0.6 to 0.7 in) wide, and weighing between 5 and 10 g (0.2 and 0.4 oz) dried, while mace is the dried ``lacy`` reddish covering or aril of the seed. This is the only tropical fruit that is the source of two different spices.
Several other commercial products are also produced from the trees, including essential oils, extracted oleoresins, and nutmeg butter (see below).
The outer surface of the nutmeg bruises easily.
The pericarp (fruit/pod) is used in Grenada to make a jam called ``Morne Delice``. In Indonesia, the fruit is also made into jam, called selei buah pala, or is finely sliced, cooked with sugar, and crystallised to make a fragrant candy called manisan pala (``nutmeg sweets``).
The Common or Fragrant Nutmeg, Myristica fragrans, native to the Banda Islands of Indonesia, is also grown in Penang Island in Malaysia and the Caribbean, especially in Grenada. It also grows in Kerala, a state in the south part of India. Other species of nutmeg include Papuan Nutmeg M. argentea from New Guinea, and Bombay Nutmeg M. malabarica from India, called Jaiphal in Hindi; both are used as adulterants of M. fragrans products.//
Nutmeg and mace have similar taste qualities, nutmeg having a slightly sweeter and mace a more delicate flavour. Mace is often preferred in light dishes for the bright orange, saffron-like hue it imparts. Nutmeg is a tasty addition to cheese sauces and is best grated fresh (see nutmeg grater). Nutmeg is a traditional ingredient in mulled cider, mulled wine, and eggnog.
In Penang cuisine, nutmeg is made into pickles and these pickles are even shredded as toppings on the uniquely Penang Ais Kacang. Nutmeg is also blended (creating a fresh, green, tangy taste and white colour juice) or boiled (resulting in a much sweeter and brown juice) to make Iced Nutmeg juice or as it is called in Penang Hokkien, ``Lau Hau Peng``.
In Indian cuisine, nutmeg is used in many sweet as well as savoury dishes (predominantly in Mughlai cuisine). It is known as Jaiphal in most parts of India and as Jatipatri and Jathi seed in Kerala. It may also be used in small quantities in garam masala. Ground nutmeg is also smoked in India.
In Middle Eastern cuisine, nutmeg grounds are often used as a spice for savoury dishes. In Arabic, nutmeg is called Jawzt at-Tiyb.
In Greece and Cyprus nutmeg is called Î¼Î¿ÏƒÏ‡Î¿ÎºÎ¬ÏÏ…Î´Î¿ (moschokarydo) (Greek: ``musky nut``) and is used in cooking and savoury dishes.
In European cuisine, nutmeg and mace are used especially in potato dishes and in processed meat products; they are also used in soups, sauces, and baked goods. In Dutch cuisine nutmeg is quite popular, it is added to vegetables like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and string beans.
Japanese varieties of curry powder include nutmeg as an ingredient.
In the Caribbean, nutmeg is often used in drinks such as the Bushwacker, Painkiller, and Barbados rum punch. Typically it is just a sprinkle on the top of the drink.
The essential oil is obtained by the steam distillation of ground nutmeg and is used heavily in the perfumery and pharmaceutical industries. The oil is colourless or light yellow, and smells and tastes of nutmeg. It contains numerous components of interest to the oleochemical industry, and is used as a natural food flavouring in baked goods, syrups, beverages, and sweets. It replaces ground nutmeg as it leaves no particles in the food. The essential oil is also used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries, for instance, in toothpaste, and as a major ingredient in some cough syrups. In traditional medicine nutmeg and nutmeg oil were used for illnesses related to the nervous and digestive systems.
Nutmeg butter is obtained from the nut by expression. It is semi-solid, reddish brown in colour, and tastes and smells of nutmeg. Approximately 75% (by weight) of nutmeg butter is trimyristin, which can be turned into myristic acid, a 14-carbon fatty acid which can be used as a replacement for cocoa butter, can be mixed with other fats like cottonseed oil or palm oil, and has applications as an industrial lubricant.
There is some evidence to suggest that Roman priests may have burned nutmeg as a form of incense, although this is disputed. It is known to have been used as a prized and costly spice in medieval cuisine, used as flavourings, medicines, preserving agents, that were at the time highly valued in European markets. Saint Theodore the Studite ( ca. 758 â€“ ca. 826) was famous for allowing his monks to sprinkle nutmeg on their pease pudding when required to eat it. In Elizabethan times it was believed that nutmeg could ward off the plague, so nutmeg was very popular.
The small Banda Islands were the world's only source of nutmeg and mace. Nutmeg was traded by Arabs during the Middle Ages and sold to the Venetians for exorbitant prices, but the traders did not divulge the exact location of their source in the profitable Indian Ocean trade and no European was able to deduce their location.
In August 1511, on behalf of the king of Portugal, Afonso de Albuquerque conquered Malacca, which at the time was the hub of Asian trade. In November of that year, after having secured Malacca and learning of the Bandas' location, Albuquerque sent an expedition of three ships led by his good friend AntÃ³nio de Abreu to find them. Malay pilots, either recruited or forcibly conscripted, guided them via Java, the Lesser Sundas and Ambon to Banda, arriving in early 1512. The first Europeans to reach the Bandas, the expedition remained in Banda for about one month, purchasing and filling their ships with Banda's nutmeg and mace, and with cloves in which Banda had a thriving entrepÃ´t trade. The first written accounts of Banda are in Suma Oriental, a book written by the Portuguese apothecary TomÃ© Pires based in Malacca from 1512 to 1515. But full control of this trade was not possible and they remained largely participants, rather than overlords since the authority Ternate held over the nutmeg-growing centre of the Banda Islands was quite limited. Therefore, the Portuguese failed to gain a foothold in the islands themselves.
The trade in nutmeg later became dominated by the Dutch in the 17th century. The British and Dutch engaged in prolonged struggles to gain control of Run island, then the only source of nutmeg. At the end of the Second Anglo-Dutch War the Dutch gained control of Run in exchange for the British controlling New Amsterdam (New York) in North America.
The Dutch managed to establish control over the Banda Islands after an extended military campaign that culminated in the massacre or expulsion of most of the islands' inhabitants in 1621. Thereafter, the Banda Islands were run as a series of plantation estates, with the Dutch mounting annual expeditions in local war-vessels to extirpate nutmeg trees planted elsewhere.
As a result of the Dutch interregnum during the Napoleonic Wars, the English took temporary control of the Banda Islands from the Dutch and transplanted nutmeg trees to their own colonial holdings elsewhere, notably Zanzibar and Grenada. Today, a stylised split-open nutmeg fruit is found on the national flag of Grenada.
Connecticut gets its nickname (``the Nutmeg State``, ``Nutmegger``) from the legend that some unscrupulous Connecticut traders would whittle ``nutmeg`` out of wood, creating a ``wooden nutmeg`` (a term which came to mean any fraud) .
World production of nutmeg is estimated to average between 10,000 and 12,000 tonnes (9,800 and 12,000 long tons) per year with annual world demand estimated at 9,000 tonnes (8,900 long tons); production of mace is estimated at 1,500 to 2,000 tonnes (1,500 to 2,000 long tons). Indonesia and Grenada dominate production and exports of both products with a world market share of 75% and 20% respectively. Other producers include India, Malaysia (especially Penang where the trees are native within untamed areas), Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, and Caribbean islands such as St. Vincent. The principal import markets are the European Community, the United States, Japan, and India. Singapore and the Netherlands are major re-exporters.
At one time, nutmeg was one of the most valuable spices. It has been said that in England, several hundred years ago, a few nutmeg nuts could be sold for enough money to enable financial independence for life.
The first harvest of nutmeg trees takes place 7â€“9 years after planting and the trees reach their full potential after 20 years.
In low doses, nutmeg produces no noticeable physiological or neurological response.
Nutmeg contains myristicin, a weak monoamine oxidase inhibitor. Myristicin poisoning can induce convulsions, palpitations, nausea, eventual dehydration, and generalized body pain. It is also reputed to be a strong deliriant.
Fatal myristicin poisonings in humans are very rare, but two have been reported, in an 8-year-old child and a 55-year-old adult.
Myristicin poisoning is also potentially deadly to pets and livestock even in culinary quantities. For this reason, for example, it is recommended not to feed eggnog to dogs.
Use of nutmeg as a recreational drug is unpopular due to its unpleasant taste and its possible negative side effects, including dizziness, flushes, dry mouth, accelerated heartbeat, temporary constipation, difficulty in urination, nausea, and panic. In addition, experiences usually last well over 24 hours and sometimes in excess of 48 hours, making recreational use rather impractical.
Speculative comparisons between the effects of nutmeg intoxication and MDMA (or 'ecstasy') have been made. However, nutmeg contains bodily-synthesized amphetamine derivatives from the main chemical components of nutmeg, myristicin and elemicin. Not every person will synthesize these amphetamine derivatives.
In his autobiography, Malcolm X mentions incidences of prison inmates consuming nutmeg powder, usually diluted in a glass of water, in order to become inebriated. The prison guards eventually catch on to this practice and crack down on nutmeg's use as a psychoactive in the prison system. In William Burrough's appendix of Naked Lunch, he mentions nutmeg causing a similar experience to marijuana but instead of relieving nausea, it causes it.
Nutmeg was once considered an abortifacient, but may be safe for culinary use during pregnancy. However, it inhibits prostaglandin production and contains hallucinogens that may affect the fetus if consumed in large quantities.
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