Nutmeg’s rich, nutty flavor enhances a range of foods. While it is commonly combined with other stronger or equally pungent spices, some applications call for nutmeg to be the primary flavor. To get the strongest notes from nutmeg, grate it right before use or right over your dish; pre-ground nutmeg — like most pre-ground spices — loses its flavor rapidly after you open the container. Below is a look at some of the best ways to use nutmeg, both on its own and as a part of a flavor ensemble.
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As a savory spice
Nutmeg is best known for its role in sweet preparations, but it has long been used in a range of meat dishes. It is a traditional spice for sausages and in various other savory Italian preparations, including gnocchi and pasta sauces. Unlike its use in sweet dishes, nutmeg is used as an accent in savory foods. A little goes a long way, with most recipes calling only for the tiniest amounts. Usually, you won’t be required to use more than 1/8 of a teaspoon.
In spice blends
Nutmeg is excellent as a solo flavoring but is also a good team player. It is an excellent partner for popular sweet spices like cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Its ability to provide a background note is the reason that you will often see it used in popular spice blends like pumpkin pie spice and apple pie spice. Nutmeg also plays a role in more exotic spice blends like the Middle East’s ras el hanout and the French quatre epices. Some versions of Jamaican jerk seasoning will also include nutmeg.
As a custard spice
The mild sweetness of nutmeg is widely regarded as a great spice for rich, eggy custards. Nutmeg pairs well with cinnamon and vanilla, which are common custard spices.
As a breakfast spice
The warm, mellow notes of nutmeg make it the perfect complement to a range of breakfast foods. Nutmeg has long been used in traditional breakfast breads like muffins, but it also lends itself to other options usually associated with cinnamon, such as French toast and oatmeal. You can sprinkle a little nutmeg into your pancake and waffle batter as well.
As a beverage spice
Nutmeg is one of the spices that work well in warm drinks. It is an essential spice for traditional winter drinks like hot chocolate and eggnog. You can add nutmeg in at the start of preparation and then top the drinks off with a light dusting just before serving them.
As a vegetable spice
Like cinnamon, nutmeg is at home on sweet potatoes. It gets used on assorted beta carotene-rich vegetables like pumpkin, winter squash and carrots. It can also give a pleasant flavor to leafy greens like spinach, and it pairs well with some crucifers, including cauliflower and broccoli. When using nutmeg on any vegetable, it’s a good idea to include a rich fat source as well. Butter is an excellent option, but coconut oil and olive oil can work if you want vegan fat.
As a fruit spice
Not all spices pair well with uncooked fruit. Nutmeg can enhance the flavor of a range of fruit with or without cooking. Raw or cooked apples, peaches, and pears all will see their flavors enhanced with the addition of a little nutmeg. You will also find that nutmeg is a good addition to some tropical fruits like mangoes and bananas. Use nutmeg to dust fruit salad or add it to jam.