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The Nutmeg story

On my recent trip to Kerala, I found a Nutmeg tree during one of the early morning photo walks.
Nutmeg is a tropical evergreen tree important for two spices derived from the fruit: Nutmeg and Mace.


The ripe fruit splits and drops to the ground to eject the seed.



This is the only tropical fruit that is the source of two different spices - Nutmeg, the egg shaped seed and Mace, the "lacy" reddish aril of the seed.



I collected these fallen Nutmeg seeds...



Nutmeg, along with cinnamon, cloves and dry ginger gave amazing flavors to this Plum Cake I baked yesterday...



Some trivia on Nutmeg

Nutmeg contains hallucinogens and was fashionable in Europe in the 1600s for its hallucination inducing properties. It was also considered an aphrodisiac.

The spice has been used for centuries as a form of snuff in Indonesia and India for intoxication.

It is used along with Cinnamon and clove in Christmas cakes and eggnogs because it helps keep the body warm in the cold season. The hallucinogens makes you feel good and cheerful during the festivities.

It helps to relieve from stomachaches.

In the 17th century the British and the Dutch were competing to get control of the Nutmeg growing lands.

The Dutch waged a bloody war, including the massacre and enslavement of the inhabitants of the island of Banda, just to control nutmeg production in 1621.

As per wikipedia, in 1760, the price of nutmeg in London was 85 to 90 shillings per pound, a price kept artificially high by the Dutch voluntarily burning full warehouses of nutmegs in Amsterdam.

As a result of the Dutch interregnum during the Napoleonic Wars, the British took temporary control of the Banda Islands from the Dutch and transplanted nutmeg trees (complete with soil) to Sri Lanka, to Penang, to Bencoolen and to Singapore.

There is this interesting story of how the Dutch traded Manhattan to gain control of a Nutmeg producing island from the British. Read the story by Jane McGrath - Did the Dutch really trade Manhattan for Nutmeg?

Connecticut gets its nickname ("the Nutmeg State", "Nutmegger") from the legend that some unscrupulous Connecticut traders would whittle "nutmeg" out of wood, creating a "wooden nutmeg" (a term which came to mean any fraud).

49 comments:

  1. That cake photo made me hungry. :D It looks so delicious.

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  2. You had me with the fabulous photos and then just kept me with all the great trivia! Fantastic post!

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  3. So fascinating! I've never seen the raw form of mace.

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  4. They are indeed a beautiful fruit. I so wanted to bring one home with me when I was In Jamaica but of course could not.Hubby and I were just talking about this today. I am going to show him this tomorrow since he was not with me in Jamaica. Your photos are wonderful.
    QMM

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  5. I love the smell of freshly grated nutmeg.In Penang, they have pickled nutmeg flesh, a must buy if one ever visit Penang.

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  6. Beautiful and sharp Pics Shiju. Yaar, I love plum cakes. Next time we meet see if you can bake some for me.

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  7. I never realized how much I didn't know about nutmeg until today...thanks for sharing this. And that cake looks delicious.

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  8. I had no idea that nutmeg came from a tree and that there were two spices grown together. Thanks for sharing.

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  9. Who knew the history of nutmeg was so interesting?! Thank you for the information. I have always loved the taste of nutmeg, but I will appreciate it even more now.

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  10. Very interesting, thank you so much for sharing your discoveries and gorgeous photos at our party :)
    Have a wonderful weekend,
    Biti
    http://www.pret-a-vivre.com/2013/06/ready-to-waltz-its-party-time.html

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  11. First time I've seen a nutmeg fruit. Thanks for sharing. Please link bank to the meme.

    Orange You Glad

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  12. Interesting and informative. Nice post.

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  13. I love a post that catches me and make misc. thoughts pop out. Ex. I am surprised that the Dutch fought so hard for the nutmeg, had a Dutch mother in law that once cooked a pumpkin pie with NO spices.... Eww. And how impressed I am with the photo of the plum cake and how it HOLDS together when cut so beautifully - mine would taste okay but be more crumble cake.

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  14. this orange cake looks so tasty !

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  15. Oh thank you for taking the time to take the photos of the nutmeg in its environment, I did not know the colors were so vibrant.

    Visiting from SIMC. Have a great day

    (everydayiwalkwithyou)

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  16. Thanks for the beautiful photos and trivia on nutmeg!

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  17. Such an interesting history. The cake looks delicious.

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  18. I never knew what nutmeg seeds looked like, fresh off the tree. Very interesting.

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  19. How cool! I didn't know any of that. The "mace" is so unique looking. Thanks for sharing.

    Have a great week!
    :-)
    Traci

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  20. What a wonderful look and a tasty as well - I love plumcakes - I think I will try this one out. Thank you so much for sharing :)

    You will find my contribution here:
    http://www.starhouse.nl/star4/?p=559

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  21. Thank you for sharing the facts about nutmeg and mace, and I'm glad you had photos as well. Interesting and informative post.

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  22. Beautiful. What a fascinating seed!

    Herding Cats

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  23. Beautiful photos! Amazing to think what some people will to for spice.

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  24. Beautiful colours and the cake looks delicious.

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  25. Beautiful shots. Have a fabulous week!

    Liz (mlc)
    Liz (yacb)

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  26. My very first time to see a nutmeg seed it is very interesting!

    Mary, MI

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  27. readn about spices in History classes but never seen a raw nutmeg. Thanks, the red part is beautifu;.

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  28. what a coincidence - we recently watched a "spice" cooking program on TV and they were showing nutmeg growing in Granada. I had never seen a nutmeg fruit before or know anything about it. We seem to mostly only see powdered nutmeg here. How nice to use "real" nutmeg. Also they cooked lots of dishes with nutmeg. Fascinating.
    Have a wonderful week. I am linking up to you through Our World Tuesday.

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  29. Shiju, I really enjoyed this post. Did you bake the plum cake or did Manju? Either way, I bet it was good!!!

    I've been to Grenada a couple of time during my era of Caribbean travel. It's known as the "spice island" and I swear the fragrance of spices are everywhere. That's where I first saw nutmeg growing...along with a lot of different things.

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    1. It was me who baked the cake. It is actually quite easy, once you learn some basic techniques.

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  30. Not only are the photos beautiful but I learned something about the Connecticut!!

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  31. Fascinating post!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

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  32. Fascinating article (and lovely photos) on/of nutmeg. Never knew it had hallucinogenic properties. I once had a cat by that name! Maybe that explains some of her behavior...

    Happy WW to you!

    Create With Joy
    http://create-with-joy.com

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  33. Yes for me too like Sudhir said. :)

    Great pics, never seen these fresh ones, only the dried ones at supermarket.

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  34. Super interesting. I had never really thought about where nutmeg came from before. Thanks.

    Rhonda @Laugh Quotes and Kibitz Spot

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  35. The cake looks yummy. Interesting how one can get two spices from the same plant.

    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com/2013/06/wordless-wednesday-mazel-tov.html

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  36. Whao..really interesting plant.. love your pictures.

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  37. interesting. i love nutmeg, but haven't used mace yet. however, i'm pretty sure i have it in my cupboard :)

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  38. I didn't know that about mace either!

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  39. I haven't ever seen a nutmeg in real life until now. Information was a nice add on to your blog. I always enjoy your lovely photos.
    JM Illinois
    U.S.A.

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  40. New fan from the Meet & Greet Blog hop! Very interesting ... I never knew nutmeg was a tropical fruit!

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  41. A wonderful spice indeed when used in moderation. i never buy ground nutmeg and, I am sure like you, grate my own at need. Learn something new every day, I did not know that mace was the inner husk of the nutmeg. Thanks for the info.

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  42. What an interesting post! I've never seen nutmeg before!

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  43. Interesting post. Visiting late for WW.

    I played too. Mine are here and here.

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  44. Great food photography. I want to eat that cake -but look at it too:)
    Thanks for sharing on Mandarin Orange Monday:) Sorry I am so late with my response this week.

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  45. I've never seen a nutmeg tree. Very cool.

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