Origin: Myristica fragrans (Myristicaceae), is native to the Banda Islands in the Moluccas (or Spice Islands) of Indonesia. It is also cultivated on Penang Island in Malaysia, in the Caribbean, especially in Grenada, and in Kerala, a state formerly known as Malabar in ancient writings as the hub of spice trading, in southern India.
In the 17th-century work Hortus Botanicus Malabaricus, Hendrik van Rheede records that Indians discovered nutmeg through the trade routes. In ancient times, there have been many wars to gain the production of this spice.
Nutmeg is known to have been a prized and costly spice in European. It was used as a flavoring, medicinal, and preservative agent. When the European spice trade over land was stopped in 1453, the race to win the spice trade over the seas began. European countries started to discover a route to the East Indies and the treasure of spices growing there. During this time, the price of nutmeg was so high in Europe, that one small bag of nutmeg seeds could lead to a life without earning.
The Portuguese were the first to make it to the Banda Islands, but it would be the Dutch who would eventually take control of the islands through the war. Years later, after many battles had been fought, the Dutch sat down with the British in 1667 to create a treaty to formally settle their differences.
The Dutch wanted one of the small islands in the Banda Islands that the British had managed to gain control of. In return, the British wanted the island of New Amsterdam located in the “new” Western world. The treaty was amicably and that is how the British traded nutmeg for what is now called Manhattan. The French also used to smuggle the nutmeg from the Banda Islands.
Scientifically: Nutmeg is a spicy herb made from the seed of the nutmeg tree. Nutmeg is the seed which is ground to make this spice. Scientifically, this spice is called Myristica fragrans. This is commonly known as fragrant nutmeg or true nutmeg. It is the genus of the family Myristica. The nutmeg tree is an evergreen tree with dark leaves. This spice natively belongs to Indonesia and provides two spices, Nutmeg, and mace. Nutmeg is the seed, while mace is the outer covering of the seed. Nutmeg is known for its distinctive, spicier, sweeter and warmer flavor.
Nutmeg trees have a height of about 20 meters. Nutmegs are small in size and are oval in shape. The seeds are dried in the sun for six to eight weeks and the sides are turned in every two days during the drying process. The Nutmeg seed is attained once the outer coat is dried and breaks. Dried nutmegs are usually brown in color.
Usage: This spice works as an excellent flavoring agent. It is used to flavor many kinds of baked goods, confections, puddings, potatoes, meats, sausages, sauces, vegetables, and such beverages as eggnog.
This spice has a great impact on the health due to its nutritive content of vitamins, minerals, and organic compounds related to essential oils. Nutmeg helps in relieving chronic pain, helps in inducing sleep, treats indigestion, helps in improving the cognitive skills, nutmeg also helps in lowering the blood pressure.
Below are the marvelous DIY with nutmeg for the skin and hair:
- Take half a teaspoon of nutmeg, a teaspoon of yogurt and a teaspoon of lemon juice. Mix all these ingredients together. Let it sit for about seven to eight minutes and then rinse off with cold water, followed by applying moisturizer. Apply it at least three times a week to see effective results.
- Take a teaspoon of baking soda and nutmeg each. Add a few drops of honey, olive oil, and lemon juice to the dry ingredients. Massage the pack on your skin for at least two minutes. Your face will feel warm and tingly as the nutmeg gets deep into your pores, treating the deeper layers of your skin. Now, rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry.
- Mix a teaspoon of honey and nutmeg and apply the mixture on your skin and leave it for about five to ten minutes. Both nutmeg and honey have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help keep your skin safe from acne.
- Take a pinch of nutmeg powder and a pinch of cinnamon powder. Now add just a few drops of lemon juice to it. Apply to your blemishes and dark spots and leave it on for about 20-25 minutes then wash your face as usual. This mask helps in fading dark spots.
- Take a teaspoon of nutmeg, 1 tablespoon of yogurt and 1 tablespoon of honey and mix all them together. Massage this onto your head. Leave it on for about 30 minutes then wash off. This mask promotes hair growth.
- For a home-made cleanser, take a tablespoon of coconut milk and a pinch or two of nutmeg. Stir very well to combine. Use a cotton ball to apply this cleanser gently on your clean makeup-free face.