nutmeg


nutmeg
nutmegged, adj.
/nut"meg/, n.
1. the hard, aromatic seed of the fruit of an East Indian tree, Myristica fragrans, used in grated form as a spice.
2. the similar product of certain other trees of the same genus or other genera.
3. a tree bearing such seeds.
[1300-50; ME notemug(g)e, perh. back formation from *notemugede (-ede being taken as -ED3), equiv. to note NUT + mugede < OF < LL muscata musky; see MUSK, -ATE1]

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Spice made from the seed of a tropical tree (Myristica fragrans), native to the Moluccas of Indonesia.

It has a distinctive pungent fragrance and is used in cooking and sachets and as incense. The tree yields fruit eight years after sowing, reaches its prime in 25 years, and bears fruit for 60 years or longer. The name nutmeg is also applied in different countries to other fruits or seeds, including the Brazilian nutmeg (Cryptocarya moschata), the Peruvian nutmeg (Laurelia aromatica), and the California nutmeg (Torreya californica).

Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)

G.R. Roberts

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spice
 spice (spice and herb) consisting of the seed of the Myristica fragrans, a tropical, dioecious evergreen tree native to the Moluccas, or Spice Islands, of Indonesia. Nutmeg has a distinctive, pungent fragrance and a warm, slightly sweet taste; it is used to flavour many kinds of baked goods, confections, puddings, meats, sausages, sauces, vegetables, and such beverages as eggnog. Grated nutmeg has been used as a sachet; the Romans used it as incense. Around 1600 it became important as an expensive commercial spice of the Western world and was the subject of Dutch plots to keep prices high and of English and French counterplots to obtain fertile seeds for transplantation. The nutmegs sold whole were dipped in lime to prevent their sprouting.

      The tree is cultivated in the Moluccas and the West Indies principally, and elsewhere with varying success. The trees may reach a height of about 65 feet (20 metres). They yield fruit 8 years after sowing, reach their prime in 25 years, and bear fruit for 60 years or longer. The nutmeg fruit is a pendulous drupe, similar in appearance to an apricot. When fully mature it splits in two, exposing a crimson-coloured aril, the mace, surrounding a single shiny, brown seed, the nutmeg. The pulp of the fruit is eaten locally. After collection, the aril-enveloped nutmegs are conveyed to curing areas where the mace is removed, flattened out, and dried. The nutmegs are dried gradually in the sun and turned twice daily over a period of six to eight weeks. During this time the nutmeg shrinks away from its hard seed coat until the kernels rattle in their shells when shaken. The shell is then broken with a wooden truncheon and the nutmegs are picked out. Dried nutmegs are grayish-brown ovals with furrowed surfaces. Large ones may be about 1 1/4 inches (30 millimetres) long and 3/4 inch in diameter.

      Nutmeg and mace contain 7 to 14 percent essential oil, the principal components of which are pinene, camphene, and dipentene. Nutmeg on expression yields about 24 to 30 percent fixed oil called nutmeg butter, or oil of mace, the principal component of which is trimyristin. The oils are used as condiments and carminatives and to scent soaps and perfumes. An ointment of nutmeg butter has been used as a counter-irritant and in treatment of rheumatism.

      The name nutmeg is also applied in different countries to other fruits or seeds: the Jamaica, or calabash, nutmeg derived from Monodora myristica; the Brazilian nutmeg from Cryptocarya moschata; the Peruvian nutmeg from Laurelia aromatica; the Madagascar, or clove, nutmeg from Ravensara aromatica; and the California, or stinking, nutmeg from Torreya californica.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Nutmeg — Nut meg, n. [OE. notemuge; note nut + OF. muge musk, of the same origin as E. musk; cf. OF. noix muguette nutmeg, F. noix muscade. See {Nut}, and {Musk}.] (Bot.) The kernel of the fruit of the nutmeg tree ({Myristica fragrans}), a native of the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • nutmeg — (n.) hard aromatic seed of the East Indies, c.1300, from O.N.Fr. or Anglo Fr. *noiz mugue, from O.Fr. nois muguete, unexplained alteration of nois muscade nut smelling like musk, from nois nut (from L. nux) + L. muscada, fem. of muscat musky (see …   Etymology dictionary

  • nutmeg — [nut′meg΄] n. [ME notemygge, partial transl. of OFr nois muguete < Prov noiz muscade, lit., musky nut < L nux, NUT + LL muscus, MUSK] 1. the hard, aromatic seed of an East Indian tree (Myristica fragrans) of the nutmeg family: it is grated… …   English World dictionary

  • nutmeg — ► NOUN ▪ a spice made from the seed of a tropical tree native to the Moluccas. ORIGIN partial translation of Old French nois muguede musky nut …   English terms dictionary

  • Nutmeg — For other uses, see Nutmeg (disambiguation). Nutmeg Myristica fragrans Scientific classification Kingdom …   Wikipedia

  • nutmeg — noun Etymology: Middle English notemigge, notemuge, ultimately from Old Occitan noz muscada, from noz nut (from Latin nuc , nux) + muscada, feminine of muscat musky more at muscat Date: 15th century 1. an aromatic seed produced by an evergreen… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • nutmeg — 1. noun /ˈnʌtmɛɡ/ a) an evergreen tree, Myristica fragrans, cultivated in the East Indies for its spicy seeds b) the aromatic seed of this tree, used as a spice 2. verb …   Wiktionary

  • nutmeg — [[t]nʌ̱tmeg[/t]] N UNCOUNT Nutmeg is a spice made from the seed of a tree that grows in hot countries. Nutmeg is usually used to flavour sweet food …   English dictionary

  • nutmeg — UK [ˈnʌtmeɡ] / US [ˈnʌtˌmeɡ] noun [countable/uncountable] Word forms nutmeg : singular nutmeg plural nutmegs a brown powder used as a spice to give flavour to food. It comes from the hard seed of a tropical tree …   English dictionary

  • nutmeg — nut•meg [[t]ˈnʌt mɛg[/t]] n. 1) pln the hard, aromatic seed of an East Indian tree, Myristica fragrans, of the nutmeg family, used in grated form as a spice 2) pln a similar seed of certain related trees 3) pln a tree bearing the nutmeg seed •… …   From formal English to slang


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