Autumn is finally here and all we want to do is cosy up beside a warm fire while enjoying some seasonal fall flavours.
When temperatures start to lower and leaves start to change colours, we know that autumn has officially arrived. It's our absolute favourite season, as we love chunky jumpers, hot chocolate and scarves, but mostly we love the reintroduction of some of our favourite flavours.
Of course, flavours know no time-constraints, but there are some that just taste better in autumn, which is what this new series is all about. Over the next few weeks, we'll be taking a closer look at some of our favourite fall flavours to help you adjust to the demise of summer.
First up we looked at an all-American classic; cinnamon. After that, we took a closer look at cloves. This week, we will be taking a deep dive into nutmeg.
What Is Nutmeg?
Nutmeg is a gorgeously fragrant spice that comes from the Myristica fragrans tree, which is native to Indonesia. Nutmeg isn't the only spice that comes from this evergreen tree: mace is also produced here.
Mace is the red covering found over the nutmeg seed which is rightly prized in its own way, but in our eyes, nutmeg is slightly better thanks to its warm, spicy flavour.
Nutmeg has a long and varied history, involving colonisation, medicinal use and more. The earliest known use of nutmeg is thought to have been around 3,500 years ago and since then, the spice has been prized by a variety of nations. Initially, nutmeg trees were only grown on the Banda Islands, also known as the Spice Islands, so it was difficult to find, resulting in high prices.
When colonisers and explorers returned to Europe with nutmeg, it was thought to ward off the plague, increase virility and help with many other ailments, so it was highly coveted during medieval and Elizabethan times.
The Banda Islands were controlled by the Portuguese, English and Dutch at different stages through history, which saw them nearly torn apart in order to keep the spice under wraps. Eventually, someone was able to smuggle seeds from the island and plant nutmeg trees in other locations, which has helped to reduce price and increase the availability of the spice.
Similar to other fall favourites, nutmeg has a warm, intense flavour. It has hallucinogenic properties if ingested in large quantities, so it is advised that not too much is eaten at once, especially by pregnant women; the spice can affect the foetus and was once thought to cause abortions.
Nutmeg is best when it's freshly ground, but is also sold ground. Whole nutmeg will last for many years without losing its flavour, but the ground variety won't last as long.
READ MORE: Fall Flavours: Cloves
Nutmeg Flavour Pairings
Similar to cloves and cinnamon, nutmeg is extremely popular in the colder months as it evokes a sense of warmth. Used generously in pumpkin spice mix, which is all the rage in autumn, nutmeg helps to create a flavour combination with a hint of spice.
There are so many different flavours that nutmeg goes really well with, but some of our favourites include apple, squash, cauliflower, lamb and parsnip.
If you're looking for some recipes that use nutmeg, some of our favourites include Louise Lennox's blackberry cobbler, this sag paneer from LEON's newest cookbook Happy Curries or this gorgeously warming marmalade bread and butter pudding.