Nutmeg or Nuez Moscada

Nutmeg is an ingredient that tends to be overlooked in the kitchen. With a fascinating taste that is mildly sweet, somewhat woody, and a bit peppery, it is used mostly for desserts or drinks.

A native ingredient from Indonesia, nutmeg comes from an evergreen tree, now planted in more countries, that found its way to Mexico in the years of the Spanish Colony with its vast and intensive trade routes to the East.

Cute little seeds, they appear to be unpeeled nuts or large pebbles from the outside. They are very hard and solid and cannot be chopped. The best way to use them is freshly ground with a grater. They are also best used judiciously, as a little goes a long way. Once you grate them, you can see their lovely marbled interior.

Some people buy and use nutmeg grinders, but I find that any fine grater will do.

An interesting piece of information, the spice mace is made from the thin protective layer that covers the nutmeg seed.

I love using nutmeg on potato or sweet potato puree, fish, shrimp croquettes, soups and desserts. I know I have yet to explore further uses of this intense and charming spice.


10comments inNutmeg or Nuez Moscada

  1. Clare Gray-Bayne

    Jun 28

    Pati, We were in Grenada nearly 30 years ago, right after we were first married. It was there that I saw my first nutmeg tree. Nutmeg is a beautiful fruit–it is a fleshy yellow pod that pops open when it is ripe. This exposes the mace and nutmeg shell. Mace is a lacy protective shell on the outside of the nutmeg shell and is bright orange against the brown nutmeg shell. It has a similar flavor as nutmeg, but not as pungent to my mind. I brought home some nutmegs and cracked them open with a nut cracker, used a mallet to break up the nutmegs into pieces and grind them in my spice grinder. One or two nutmegs at a time. I use it in cookies, cinnamon buns, we make nutmeg ice cream with nutmeg and Grenade liquor (only from Grenada) by softening vanilla ice cream (Haagen Das) enough to stir in the liquer and a couple of teaspoons of spice. It is yummy over pies and with pound cake. I’m sure we could come up with other things to put it on. Cheers.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jun 30

      Thanks for the feedback and for sharing your stories from Grenada Clare! I agree with you, nutmeg can be used in way too many interesting dishes.

  2. BumbuJero

    Mar 18

    In Indonesia, all part of the nutmeg is used one way or another. The nutmeg fleshy ‘fruit’ is often pickled or preserved in syrup, the mace is dried and candied and the nutmeg it self is one of the must have spices for all my cooking. I have a fond memory of eating candied mace and sweetened nutmeg ‘fruit’. It’s amazing also this spice is the main reason for the spice trade back in 1600s and cause much of the bloodshed for native Banda people

    1. Pati

      Mar 18


  3. Sweet Potato, Pecan, Chipotle and Crema Puree – Pati's Mexican Table

    Mar 10

    […] soft, then pureed with nutty pecans that have had the chance to gently simmer with milk, thyme and nutmeg. A dash of chipotle in adobo gives it a smoky and barely spicy backdrop. It is finished with a […]

  4. Fanta

    Jan 29

    I guess it depends on which part of the world you come from. Where I come from, nutmeg is used as much as cinnamon is used in the USA. I use it in all my baking and some dishes too.

  5. lou

    Nov 25

    happy thanksgiving Pati ! I just did a sweet potato puree 4 manana. thx for the reminder to add a dash of nutmeg. always freshly grated; essential in quiche.

  6. Barbara

    Nov 23

    I always grate a little over my greens when I’m cooking them.

    1. Pati

      Nov 24

      “Grate” idea! =)

  7. Barbar a

    Nov 23

    I always use a little when I’m cooking greens.

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