The glory of nutmeg as a spice with a unique and special flavor and taste begins in antiquity and stretches to the present day, where nutmeg is an integral part of many ethnic dishes. Italian, Caribbean, Indian, French, Greek, even dishes typical of Latin America and the Middle East hardly pass without the use of small doses of nutmeg.
A Brief History of nutmeg
The nutmeg tree (Myristica fragans) is of the myristic family. It is evergreen and reaches 15 m in height. The home of nutmeg are Molucca and Banda Islands, but the cuisine there does not pay much attention to the benefits of the culinary delight. It became a favorite of Arabs who traded with the Far East from ancient times to the late Middle Ages. It is widely used as a spice in Arab cuisine, nutmeg was then exported to Europe.
Nutmeg appeals to Europeans quickly, but in the beginning, it was too hard to find, because of being imported in small quantities. In the 16th century, nutmeg received great attention, as the Portuguese conquered the Moluccas. They immediately impose a monopoly on the export of this spice.
After about 100 years, the archipelago was captured by the Dutch, who in turn vigilantly maintained the nutmeg tree plantations. Strict penalties were imminent for anyone who dares to pick even one nut and the final punishment was for the offender to remain without a hand. The French managed to get to the tree seedlings and built nutmeg plantations in Mauritius.
Application of nutmeg
For culinary use, the spice is ideal if it goes in conjunction with pepper, bay leaf, onion, parsley and turnips. Nutmeg is the ideal condiment for various fricasees, pates, soups, minced meat dishes, sauces, vegetable dishes. Without it, the famous Bechamel sauce with mushrooms would not have that characteristic taste. In Indian cuisine, it is used almost exclusively in sweets. In European cuisine, along with wren and mace, they are used especially in potato dishes often.
Nutmeg and mace have a similar taste, the taste of the wren is different in that it is slightly sweet. It’s bark is light orange, so a Saffron- like color is preferred in the preparation of light sauces, because they offer an appetizing color. The extraction of the bark of nutmeg is only 15% of that of the whole piece, which is why it is more expensive. Nutmeg is a material widely used for essential oil. It is obtained by steam distillation of ground nutmeg and is used heavily in the perfumery and pharmaceutical industries. The essential oil is even used in the production of Coca-Cola.
Benefits of nutmeg
Since time immemorial, nutmeg is used in syrups for coughs. In traditional medicine, nutmeg and its oil were used for illnesses related to the nervous and digestive systems. The oil can be used against rheumatic pain and as an emergency remedy for tooth pain. In indigestion, the essential oil of nutmeg is mixed with honey drops. It works well for bad breath.
When battling gastroenteritis, chronic diarrhea, or upset stomach- you may apply 3 to 5 drops of oil mixed with honey or sugar. Extremely beneficial effect on the nervous system of the person using nutmeg can be expected, because it contains myristicin. It stimulates the production of serotonin - the hormone of happiness and peace. Some say it is a good idea to add a little nutmeg in their tea.
Damage from the consumption of nutmeg
If used in small doses, nutmeg does not have any negative effects on the human body. A high dose of nutmeg is one measured at 10 grams or more, and then it starts to have weak to medium strength hallucinogenic effects. In an overdose, nutmeg is able to induce visions and pleasant feeling that mimic the effects of marijuana. Hallucinations and the anesthetic effect can resume within 24 hours after the initial peak, which is about 12 hours after ingestion of an excessive dose of nutmeg.
However, it is possible to experience unpleasant side effects such as hallucinations, nausea, dehydration, general body pain in an interval 36 hours after ingestion. Regular and excessive use of the nutmeg is able to cause damage to the liver. Upon intravenous injection, nutmeg acts as a powerful poison. In the past, nutmeg has been used to induce abortion. Large doses of this spice, once absorbed, are extremely dangerous - leading to convulsions and palpitations, sometimes even being fatal.