People who know Stef and I will understand that finding new ingredients makes us very happy – some might say a little too happy (but we don’t care!).
When a friend recently went on a cruise around Barbados (a rich friend, obvs) I remembered buying a nutmeg with the mace still attached when I was in my 20’s and hadn’t been able to find one since. I asked if he saw any to bring me some back.
I was so happy when I received this photo saying “Is this what you’re looking for?”
It was what I was looking for but even better! I’d seen pictures of nutmeg still in its fruit, but never with the prospect of that very fruit coming to live with me!
The nutmeg fruit is used in preserves over there and can’t be exported because once the fruit has opened to expose the nutmeg, it deteriorates really quickly. The bright red that you can see is the mace which is a spice in its own right, you can buy it in ‘blades’ or ground and it has a similar flavour to nutmeg, but lighter. When you buy blades of mace in a shop, they are brown in colour – it was fantastic to see them so red. My friend had found them on the floor, like conkers!
I couldn’t wait to see them in the flesh.
Sure enough, a package appeared on my doorstep – the best present ever!
It had started to wrinkle and dry a little and the leaves were long gone, but here it was and it was mine!
The mace was still a vibrant red and the nutmeg was nestling nicely in its fruity bed. There was a promising rattle coming from inside the shell – the only way to get to the nutmeg is to take off the mace and then get the nut crackers out to crack the outer shell. Fortunately, I’d been brought some spares!
I felt as though I’d just seen a baby duck hatch! The scent of nutmeg was intense but softer than normal.
We sliced into the fruit and cut a sliver to taste. A very vague taste of nutmeg, but overwhelmed by a ‘green’ taste. It dries your mouth like rhubarb does when you eat it, but without the tang. So… fruit-wise, not so good.
I’ve only cracked open a couple – I’m saving them for special occasions like cracking open champagne.
In the meantime, let’s start thinking about recipes to use nutmeg in!