Nutmeg


Nutmeg -

The nutmeg is the kernel of the fruit of a tropical tree, native to Asia, Africa and South America. The pink or red flesh covering it, is the almost equally popular spice known as mace (which see). The whole fruit, about as large as a peach and of a yellowish-green color, is in the East Indies often preserved entire as a sweetmeat.

The tree begins bearing at the age of eight years, and continues to yield for about seventy-five years. It carries ripe fruit at all seasons, but there are three principal harvest periods - July, when the fruit is most abundant, though yielding thin mace; November, when the fruit is thickest, but the nutmegs are small, and March, when both nutmegs and mace attain their finest condition, but the total product is less in quantity on account of the dryness of the season.

After the nutmegs have been gathered and stripped of their outer covering, they are placed upon gratings over slow fires and dried at a low heat, not over 140° Fahr., until the kernel rattles freely in the shell. The shells are next cracked and removed and the kernels are sprinkled with lime, to protect them from the attacks of insects and to destroy their power of germination, and then packed for export in tight casks, previously soaked and coated on the inside with limewash. In this condition they will keep for an indefinite length of time.

In purchasing nutmegs, choose those which are round and compact in shape, of oily appearance and heavy. They are graded and quoted by the number to the pound - varying from 80 to 140. The largest are the more showy, but those of moderate size, other points being equal, are just as good. Light, dried, dull kinds or those of long, oval shape, should be avoided.

Sift-top cans of ready-grated nutmeg find good retail demand and give satisfaction when the contents are pure and fresh.

The bulk of the United States supply - which is more than the total consumption of all other countries combined! - comes from Penang and Celebes, of the East Indies.

There is also a small, steady importation from the British West Indies.

See also general article on SPICES.


Arround Nutmeg in The Grocer's Encyclopedia


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