Nutmeg is a delightful spice when used in small amounts. It is a key component of apple pie spice as well as pumpkin pie spice and can stand on its own as well. The big problems with nutmeg only show up when you use too much of it. Not only can extra nutmeg give food a soapy and bitter taste, it can be toxic as well. Symptoms of nutmeg toxicity include nausea and dizziness. Note that it takes only two to three teaspoons of this spice to make a toxic dose. If you have added too much nutmeg, there are a few tricks that can help you to save your meal.
Dilution is the best option when dealing with excessive amounts of any spice. Nutmeg is no different; in fact, dilution is the most desirable option given nutmeg’s potential toxicity. Regardless of the dish you are making, you can tone down the flavor of too much nutmeg by reducing its concentration. Simply add more of all the other ingredients in the dish except for the nutmeg. If you added twice the amount of nutmeg that you should have used, double the other ingredients to get the right balance of flavors. If you are not sure how much of the spice you put into your dish, add the other ingredients in small amounts and taste after each addition. Keep going until your dish achieves the desired flavor profile.
Obviously, if you use this method you will have to cook more food and spend more time in the kitchen than you intended; however, it can keep you from throwing food away and from having to start over.
Dairy is another common solution for the overuse of spices. The mild taste of dairy can help to mask the unpleasant taste of concentrated nutmeg. Dairy should also work well in many dishes that require nutmeg, especially since the spice is commonly used in dessert dishes. For example, an apple pie with too much nutmeg can be fixed with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Pumpkin soups that require nutmeg usually have cream among the ingredients; just add more of it.
Physically remove it
If you have added to a dish such as a thick soup or eggnog and it is still on the surface, you may be able to skim it off before it releases its volatile oils. If the nutmeg is in a rub or other spice blend that is on the surface of the food, consider rinsing it off.
If you have not gone too far overboard and your nutmeg is not at toxic levels, consider balancing the spices in your dish. In many dishes, cinnamon’s warmth can be the perfect counterweight to nutmeg’s sweetness. Cinnamon is an especially effective complement for nutmeg in desserts. Note that because it is such a pungent spice, cinnamon may not be a good option for all dishes that require nutmeg. Consider the overall flavor profile of the dish before using this option.
In a savory dish, garlic can provide a strong enough flavor to mask your overuse of nutmeg. As with cinnamon, you will want to proceed with caution when adding garlic since you run the risk of completely overwhelming other flavors.