It is a spice consisting of the seed of the Myristica fragens, a tropical dioecious evergreen tree native to Moluccas of Spice Islands of Indonesia. Nutmeg has a characteristic, pleasant fragrance and slightly warm taste; it is used to flavour many kinds of baked goods, confections, puddings, meats, sausages, sauces, vegetables and beverages.
The trees may reach about 65 feet (20 metres) tall. They yield fruit 8 years after sowing, reach their prime in 25 years and bear fruits for 60 years or longer. The tree stands on the Moluccas thrives in the shade under groves of lofty trees. The nutmeg fruit is a pendulous drupe, similar in appearance to an apricot. When fully matured, it splits into two, exposing a crimson coloured aril, the mace, surrounding a single shiny brown seed, the nutmeg. The pulp of the fruit is eaten locally. After collection, the arilenveloped nutmegs are conveyed to curing areas where the mace is removed, flattened out and dried. The nutmegs are dried slowly in the sun and turned twice daily over a period of 6 to 8 months. During this time, the nutmeg shrinks away from its hard seed coat until the kernels rattle in their shells when shaken. The shell is then broken with a wooden truncheon and the nutmegs are picked out. Dried nutmegs are greenish brown with furrowed surfaces. Large ones may be about 1.2 inch long and 0.8 inch in diameter.
The nutmeg and mace contain 7% to 14% essential oil, the principal components of which are pinene, camphene and dipentene. The oils are used as condiments and carminatives and to scent soaps find perfumes.
Benefit and uses of Nutmeg.
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