The spice known as nutmeg is the seed of an evergreen tree that is native to the Banda Islands of Indonesia, also known as the Spice Islands. The covering of this same seed yields the herb Mace. It is now grown in parts of Malaysia, India and the Caribbean as well.
Nutmeg trees can be grown in Zones 10 and 11 as it prefers temperatures remain above 55 degrees F. It can be grown from seed, provided the seeds are fresh. They should be placed in a well-drained situation to prevent water-logging, but need to be watered frequently and not allowed to dry out.
A male and a female tree are necessary for the female tree to produce fruit. The male tree will not produce fruit but can fertilize several females. It is impossible to tell whether a nutmeg tree is male or female until it reaches sexual maturity. It takes about 6-9 years for a nutmeg tree to begin fruiting and about 20 years to reach peak production.
The nutmeg tree bears small, fragrant yellow flowers closely followed by a peach-like fruit which splits and falls from the tree when it is ripe. The yellow skin can be used to make jams and jellies. The bright red, lacy, waxy covering around the seed is laid out to dry in the sun and used to make mace and the seed itself must be cracked free of its protective shell and then grated to produce the spice nutmeg.
Nutmeg is best stored in a cool, dry place inside its shell. Stored this way it will keep for up to 30 years. Stored without the shell it will stay fresh for about 3 years. Ground, it begins to lose flavor immediately.
Obviously, it is impractical to attempt to grow nutmeg in most places, but it is readily available at the grocery store.
Magical Attributes of Nutmeg
A whole nutmeg seed can be carried to bring luck during all games of chance from cards to Bingo to roulette. This effect is greatly enhanced by creating an amulet of the seed by drilling a hole in the nutmeg and filling it with Mercury and then stopping up the hole with wax or glue or by carrying the seed wrapped in green cloth (or both).
Nutmeg can also be carried as a charm to encourage a favorable decision in court cases and success in other legal matters. Wrap it in a purple cloth or string it on a purple string for this purpose.
A Nutmeg in the pocket will also help to ensure good luck while traveling.
An old Creole spell suggests that sprinkling nutmeg in a woman’s shoe at midnight will encourage her to fall madly in love with you. Other ways of using nutmeg to encourage another’s love is to share a beverage flavored with nutmeg with them, or to wear a fragrance featuring nutmeg oil.
Nutmeg can be added to beverages drunk before meditation and divination to enhance clairvoyance and clear sight and to encourage visions. A massage oil containing nutmeg essential oil or nutmeg butter may also be rubbed into the temples for the same purpose.
Nutmeg essential oil is an ingredient in Money Drawing Oil which can be used to anoint candles and other items during spell work aimed at bringing money to the household. Powdered nutmeg can also be added to money drawing powders which can be sprinkled over coals, candles, and other items during money-drawing spells.
Household Uses of Nutmeg
Nutmeg butter can be extracted from the seeds. Simply break them up and cover them with water and simmer on a very low temperature overnight- a slow cooker is useful for this. Then strain the liquid into a container, allow to cool and skim off the fat that rises to the surface. Use this as you would cocoa butter or as an aromatic balm, but be sure to test some on your skin first to make sure you’re not allergic.
Healing Attributes of Nutmeg
Use caution with nutmeg as it can cause hallucinations if used in large amounts and can be toxic. Doses larger than 1 tsp are not recommended. Pregnant women should not use nutmeg medicinally.
For the stomach: Nutmeg encourages the appetite and aids digestion. It reduces gas and excess acid and eases cramping associated with diarrhea, relieving many sources of stomach discomfort.
Nutmeg is calming and can help ease you into a gentle sleep. Try it sprinkled into a cup of warm milk sweetened with honey.
Nutmeg butter may be added to salves for the relief of minor skin irritations and for rheumatic rubs.
Complementary Healing Herbs
balsam, bay laurel, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, lavender
Nutmeg in the Kitchen
Nutmeg is the nut of the nutmeg tree while Mace is the red covering of the nut.
Mace can color whatever food it flavors a bright orange. It has a subtler flavor than nutmeg.
Nutmeg has a stronger, sweeter flavor than mace. It is best purchased whole and prepared fresh with a nutmeg grater. One nutmeg will yield about 3 teaspoons of grated nutmeg and will stay fresh for about 3 years. Nutmeg is popular in baked goods, particularly pies and is delicious in recipes featuring eggs, dairy products and yellow vegetables like squash, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes and also spinach, particularly if it’s creamed. Nutmeg should be used sparingly as a little goes a long way.
Nutmeg and mace are both used in haggis.
Nutmeg shells can be placed on the BBQ coals to add flavor to meats.
Nutmeg rind, often only available in tropical areas, can be used to make jam or jelly or sliced thinly and crystallized to make candy.