Do yourself a favor in the flavor department and buy some whole nutmeg. A small jar of whole nutmeg will last for years and really will keep its flavor that long, in its unground state. Freshly ground nutmeg tastes stronger and fuller than already ground nutmeg and will give your recipes that extra “something” that everyone will love, but no one will be able to identify.
Now some people really dislike nutmeg, and I can’t help you with that. I’m talking to both my dad and my father-in-law here. Skip the rest of this post and try reading this one on cinnamon French toast instead. For the rest of you, read on.
If you have never seen whole nutmeg, it looks a little like a smooth peach pit or a small pecan in the shell. The spice is actually the seed of a fruit. As an aside, the spice mace is the dried outer covering of the nutmeg seed. Pull that fact out at your next party and amaze and delight your friends.
Freshly ground nutmeg sounds so fancy and snobby, but it makes such a difference in your recipes. The flavor boost is like the difference between already ground black pepper and freshly ground from a pepper mill. Do you feel snobby when you grind pepper onto your baked potato? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t, but try freshly grated nutmeg and you will never go back.
Freshly ground nutmeg is stronger than already ground nutmeg – you might want to use slightly less than the recipe calls for. You can always use more, but you can’t really take it out, obviously.
You need a microplane grater or the finest side of a box grater (the rough side that you are always scraping yourself on) to grate nutmeg. I need to write a separate post on microplanes – I use mine so much it hardly has time to dry between washings, but that is another day. To grate nutmeg, you simply rub the end of the nutmeg against the microplane or grater. Tiny shavings of nutmeg will fall away. You don’t need to use much pressure, and you get enough nutmeg for most recipes in just a few seconds. I like to put the measuring spoon flat on its back under the microplane, resting on a plate since you can’t aim with precision. Then I grate away until the spoon is mostly full. Scrape the surrounding grindings into the spoon and proceed with the recipe.