The hard brown seed from the nutmeg tree (a tropical evergreen) has a warm, spicy sweet flavor. Mace is the dried lacy membrane from around the nutmeg seed. The nutmeg tree is indigenous to the Banda Islands of Indonesia but is also grown in the Caribbean, especially in Grenada. The first harvest of nutmeg trees takes place 7-9 years after planting, and the trees reach their full potential after 20 years. At one time, nutmeg was one of the most valuable spices. It has been said that in England, several hundred years ago, a few nutmeg nuts could be sold for enough money to enable financial independence for life.
The freshness can be maintained longer if stored in an airtight container. Keep away from heat, moisture, and direct sunlight. These elements hasten the loss of flavor and aroma. Avoid storing over the stove, dishwasher, sink or near a window. Should not be stored in the freezer. Freezing does not extend the shelf life of regularly used dried spices. If stored in the freezer, and repeatedly removed for use, condensation will form in the container and accelerate loss of flavor and aroma.
Many chefs prefer freshly ground nutmeg directly from the seed.
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