Nutmeg is among the essential spices that we always have in our kitchen. It has a sweet flavor. People mostly use it in desserts as well as main dishes like meat, soups, and sausages. You may as well find its usage in the Moroccan and Middle Eastern dishes. You may also enjoy nutmeg as a topping on custard, eggnog, and cream as it goes well with the creamy and cheesy dishes. So, while cooking your favorite dish, if you find that the nutmeg from your kitchen is over, don't worry as there are few best nutmeg substitutes available in your home.
These substitutes for nutmeg will save your time from going to the grocery store and will not compromise the taste or flavor of it. You can use these nutmeg substitutes to make your favorite dish tasty and delicious. No more worries if you are short of the nutmeg in the middle of the cooking process. Most people know nothing about nutmeg except that it is a spice in several dishes. So before knowing the substitutes, let's have a look at a few facts on nutmeg.
History of Nutmeg
No wonder you have heard its name several times. Nutmeg is a common spice used all around the world to prepare various dishes. It's derived from the seeds of the tree known as MyristicaFragrans originated in Indonesia's Moluccas region. People call this region Spice Island.
MyristicaFragrans is an evergreen tree that grows green fruits, similar to an apricot. These fruits are thought of as similar to nuts like peanut or other nuts, but it is a drupe with a single seed. People call this seed the actual spice nutmeg, although this whole fruit is nutmeg.
The shell covers nutmeg seed with the red and lacy covering known as the aril. It has a pungent smell, slightly sweet taste, and a warm spicy flavor that offers an extra edge to your cooking and baking.
Forms of Nutmeg and Their Usage
You can find several forms of the nutmeg tree. Here is a quick overview on the forms and their usage.
Fruit: It is usually used to make jams and other special kinds of candy. In Indonesia, the natives use this fruit to make a special type of dessert. Natives call it 'Manisan Pala', they make it from sliced nutmeg fruits.
Essential oil: The whole seed is extracted from the fruit. After that, the seed is usually dried and finally processed into grounded nutmeg. These ground nutmegs have to undergo steam distillation to produce colorless or light yellow color oil. The smell of its essential oil is similar to nutmeg itself.
People use the nutmeg oil as a natural food flavoring in syrups, beverages, sweets, and baked items. The greatest advantage of using this oil is that you won't find any particles in your dishes which would be present if you would have used ground nutmeg.
Nutmeg Butter: For making semisolid nutmeg butter, nutmeg has to undergo an industrial process known as expression. It is reddish-brown in color and has a texture similar to the essential oil. Moreover, it also smells and tastes like a nutmeg seed.
It cannot replace nutmeg, but it is an excellent replacement for cocoa butter. Moreover, many industries use it as a lubricant.
Myristica Fragrans seed: It is the nutmeg itself and can be purchased as a whole or in the form of brown powdered spice. Even though you can purchase it as a whole, you still have to grind the nutmeg into powdered spice before using it.
The nutmeg's seed is suitable for baking. However, you may use it to add flavor to the puddings, sauces, beverages, vegetables, and meat. Also, the mixing of olive oil or nutmeg with the butter helps to boost the flavor of the vegetables.
Aril: It is a red lacy covering of the seed and is used to make spice like nutmeg. This means that from a single tree of nutmeg, we get two different types of spices.
Health Benefits of Nutmeg
Nutmeg offers a large number of health benefits, as mentioned below.
- Improve the digestion
It has a lot of medicinal properties that can treat ulcers and also stomach infections. Nutmeg can be your savior to treat digestive issues like diarrhea, bloating, or gas or constipation. You just have to add a pinch of nutmeg powder in a bowl of soup and have it.
- Treat insomnia
Nutmeg has a calming effect, and so has to be consumed in small amounts. You can add a pinch of nutmeg powder in a glass of warm milk before sleeping to induce sleep, and it is also a healthy way to treat insomnia.
- Relieves pain
Nutmeg has the inflammatory properties that help to relieve the pain and discomfort. Nutmeg contains chemicals like elemicin, eugenol, safrole, and myristicin that effectively treat and relieve you from the pain.
- Stimulate the nerve cells in the brain
The chemicals found in the nutmeg spice help release the good hormones in the body, making you feel relaxed and feel stress-free.
- Works as a great face scrub for healthy skin
Nutmeg has many antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that help to make the skin healthy and supple. It also helps to unclog the pore as well as remove the blackheads. You will love to use it as a face scrub. Do not forget to add a few drops of honey to keep your skin moisturized.
- Treat bad breath
Bad breath is caused due to excess of toxins in the body. The antibacterial properties of nutmeg help to flush the toxins from the body. Also, the essential oils found in nutmeg helps to relieve tooth pain and prevent cavities.
Where to Buy Nutmeg?
Nutmeg is available in two forms that are in powder form or as a whole. It is easily accessible in the spice section of the grocery store. It is grounded in a rough powder form and tends to lose its flavor and aroma quickly. Therefore, You can find the grounded nutmegs being sold in small quantities while the whole nutmegs come in large quantities. You can easily find it in almost all the supermarkets and online shops.
How to Store Nutmeg?
It would be best if you store the ground nutmeg in the airtight container, away from the heat, light, and moisture. If you store the ground nutmeg properly, it will retain its freshness for approximately 6 months. On the other side, the whole nutmeg can stay fresh for long but make sure that it doesn't come in contact with the heat and moisture.
If you prefer to use nutmeg rarely, then you can buy the whole Nutmegs and then grate it when you want to use it for cooking. It will give you the fresh, fragrant, and flavorful nutmeg ground for every use.
Best Nutmeg substitutes
With a unique flavor, nutmeg has made its mark as a spice in a large number of dishes. However, if you have just run out of it, you can just use these nutmeg substitutes to add a similar flavor. .
Mace is one of the best nutmeg substitutes, as both these spices derive from the same tree Myristica Fragrans. Professionals treat this as one of the productive substitutes of nutmeg as it is the outer covering of the nutmeg seed, and so has a similar taste.
Though Mace is the perfect alternative for nutmeg, it doesn't have all the flavors of it. But don't worry, you won't notice much difference in the taste. You can replace nutmeg by adding the same amount of Mace in the recipe.
You may describe the flavor of Mace as a combination of pepper and cinnamon. The flavors of nutmeg are more intense than Mace, and so has a harsh flavor than nutmeg. If you want to use Mace as a substitute for nutmeg, you can use at a 1: 1 ratio.
- Garam Masala
Garam Masala is one of the popular blends of spices used in India, Pakistan, and other South Asian countries. The ingredients of the mixture used to make this masala may vary from region to region. But it usually contains nutmeg, cloves, mace, black pepper, cardamom & cinnamon. It might also contain cumin, fenugreek, turmeric, saffron, star anise, bay leaves, peppercorns, or any other spices that are popular in that particular region.
Traditionally, garam masala is made freshly with the spices ground just before the use. But, if you have a time constraint to prepare it at your home, then you can purchase the readymade packet. Note that the spices used for making garam masala may vary depending on the region. So, this is another good substitute for nutmeg as most of the spices' flavor is similar to nutmeg. You can replace nutmeg with the same amount of garam masala in the dishes.
This spice is known as 'Allspice' because it is made with a combination of spices like nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. You can easily make allspice from the berries of the Pimenta Dioica tree or find a packet of allspice in the nearest grocery store. However, the authentic Allspice is made from the berries alone and not from the mixture of the other spices.
With the help of allspice berries, you can make a mildly spicy and aromatic spice. You can add allspice as a flavoring agent to both sweet and savory dishes. As you can easily find it in the kitchen pantries, it is also a convenient nutmeg alternative. You can take an equal amount of Allspice as a substitute for nutmeg in your recipes.
Cinnamon is also one of the best-known spices and is available in almost all the kitchens. It originates from the inner bark of the different trees of the Cinnamomum genus. As most of the cinnamon comes in the powder form, you can consider it as an ideal spice as a substitute for nutmeg. It is also affordable and available in all the grocery stores.
You will get an intense flavor even when you add in smaller quantities in all the recipes, especially the desserts. Therefore, you just have to use only a tiny amount of cinnamon as a nutmeg substitute.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice
This refers to a blend of spices such as nutmeg, Allspice, cinnamon, ginger, and it can also contain cloves. It contains the taste of nutmeg and also a slight taste of other spices as well. Moreover, it goes well with the dessert as well as the savory dishes. You can use it in a similar quantity of nutmeg in the dishes.
- Apple Pie Spice
Apple Pie Spice goes well in only apple-based desserts. It is a blend of a small amount of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, and Allspice, but you will notice a strong cinnamon flavor in it compared to the other spices.
You can use apple pie as a substitute in all the dishes that contain nutmeg, but make sure that you use only half a quantity of apple pie spice to prevent the strong cinnamon taste.
Ginger can also be a better substitute for nutmeg in savory dishes. It is a plant from the Zingiberaceae family. Its root is known as ginger. You must have used in several dishes already.
It is spicier and less sweet in taste than the nutmeg and therefore used in the savory dishes. Many people prefer to use dried and ground ginger instead of whole fresh ginger.
Ginger is also a perfect substitute for nutmeg as it blends well in meat as well as vegetables- based dishes. But due to its spicy flavor, it is not suitable for the sweet dessert dishes. You can take the ginger of equal quantity that of nutmeg.
Cloves offer a sweet and peppery flavor similar to nutmeg and so used by all the people. It's derived from the flower buds of the Syzygiumaromaticum tree that initially originated in Indonesia. These buds are harvested when they are immature and dried to form the spice.
Cloves are available as a whole as well as in the ground form. You may choose any as per your convenience. But the ground cloves are better options when you want to use it for making various dishes as it completely blends with all the other ingredients. Moreover, you can use half the amount of ground cloves as a substitute for nutmeg.
Frequently Asked Questions on Nutmeg
- Can you eat nutmeg daily?
Nutmeg, when eaten in small quantities, doesn't cause any side effects. You can add it to any food type.
- Is nutmeg beneficial for treating blood pressure?
Yes. Nutmeg has essential nutrients like potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which helps manage blood pressure.
- In what dishes are nutmeg used?
Nutmeg goes well in baked items, stewed fruits, eggnog, curries, custards, and sauces.
- Is nutmeg useful for treating cough?
Yes. Nutmeg has antibacterial properties that help to boost the immune system. You can add a pinch of nutmeg powder in the warm milk to prevent the cough and cold.
- Is nutmeg safe during pregnancy?
No. Eating Nutmeg in large amounts is harmful to pregnant ladies as it can miscarriages or congenital disabilities.
The Bottom Line
Nutmeg is one of the popular spices that you can use in sweet as well as savory dishes. However, you can easily reach out to nutmeg substitutes so you will not get stuck while cooking if you don't have nutmeg in the kitchen. I hope this best nutmeg substitute article has helped you and kept you informed about the nutmeg's alternatives available in your kitchen.