Jan 1, 2010

Soule Restaurant's Food Facts: Nutmeg

I told my daughter that this month’s Food Facts would focus on Nutmeg.
She replied, “It’s poisonous in large amounts.”


Nutmeg is the spice that puts the kick in gingerbread cookies and spice cakes. It’s delicious in pies, puddings, soufflés and cheese sauces, and even works well with tomatoes, chicken, and black beans. It’s used in some Italian sausages, Scottish Haggis and Middle Eastern Lamb dishes.

No way is it poisonous; an urban myth… I think.

The nutmeg tree is a large evergreen native to the Moluccas (the Spice Islands) and is now cultivated in the West Indies.

The tree actually produces two spices: mace and nutmeg. Nutmeg is the seed inside the fruit that grows on the tree and mace is the covering on the kernel.

The flavor of nutmeg grows weak quickly once ground.

Whole nuts, however, will remain strong indefinitely.

Rich in potassium, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, nutmeg also has a small amount of iron, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. It is also rich in Vitamins A, C and choline, with small amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, Vitamin B6 and folate.

Nutmeg can reduce flatulence, aid digestion and improve the appetite, as well as treat diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. It cures stomach aches, helps to detoxify the body, reduces blood pressure, increases blood circulation and is used as a medicine for respiratory problems.

Nutmeg is also a spice that increases sexual energy and enhances fertility.

Its flavor and fragrance come from oil of myristica, which contains myristicin, a poisonous narcotic.

Myristicin can cause hallucinations, vomiting, epileptic symptoms and large dosages can cause death.

Don’t worry… a pinch or two is safe.

Who knew?

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