Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I'm a Nutmeg Snob...

Today's post is also part of Erik's Diner podcast today... link over if you want to have a listen.

While testing new recipes recently, I realized that I always list "freshly grated" where nutmeg is concerned.

I figure that many of you probably do not grate nutmeg from whole form, but I'm here to say - you should!

Am I a nutmeg snob? Maybe, but I am going to give you reason to be snooty with nutmeg as well! :)

Grating whole nutmeg is easy to do, and well worth the minimal effort.

First, buy some whole nutmeg (it's not expensive) and store in a small spice jar.

Now, you need a fine grater, or better, a kitchen rasp, pictured right. The rasp I have is just like this one, without a handle. But they are available with handles which just makes them a little more comfortable to hold.

Kitchen rasps were initially used for woodworking but found their way into the culinary world. Not only are they excellent for grating nutmeg (into a fine powder in mere seconds), but they are the best tool I have used for zesting citrus. Plus, they can be used for grating chocolate, and for garlic and ginger as well.

I don't grind/grate many spices. Nutmeg is one exception for me because the fresh grated aroma and flavor is far more pronounced and beautiful. You can't go wrong, whole nutmeg will keep for a long time and you will use your kitchen rasp or grater for other things like zesting lemons. Give it a try!


Melissa West said...

Finally a reason to purchase one of those contraptions that I always eye at the checkout line at Kitchen Stuff. I have always wanted one, but I wasn't sure what I would do with it (I already have a lemon zester). Where do you buy your whole nutmeg? Can you get whole nutmeg at bulk barn?

kaivegan said...

Dragonslayer, you could get whole nutmegs from the bulk spice section at Whole Foods.

Dreena, awesome post. My microplane (with handle) is one of my most treasured gadgets. And I also love the smell and flavor of freshly grated nutmeg.

I also have a lemon zester, which I don't use anymore. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

Dreena - I love fresh grated nutmeg, but my problem is that when I try to grate it on the microplane I have a hard time holding on to it and more then once I've ended up grating my knuckles! Am I the only person that has this problem? Are my hands somehow inept?

dragonslayer - you can definitely get whole nutmeg at the bulk's right next to the ground nutmeg:-)

Tanya Kristine said...

aaah. a rasp. that's what i need. i've recently given up and spent $6 on a small bottle of dried lemon peel. but if i had a rasp....

i received TWO fabulous cookbooks yeeestteeerrrdaaaaay! thank you!! i'm excited!

Urban Vegan said...

I'm embarrassed to admit i am a fresh-grated nutmeg virgin. as snobby as I am about certain foods, I have always used powdered. Guess I better get with the program--I'm sure it is dazzlingly better.

Chris said...

We just got a microplane grater for Christmas and finally tried fresh grated nutmeg. You're right - there's no going back now. It really makes a difference.

Vicki said...

a new horizon in cooking ~ i'd like to try one of those contraptions, especially if it doubles as the best @ zesting citrus!

KleoPatra said...

Great idea, Dreena!!! Who knew this existed? Nutmeg smells and IS wonderful; fresh must be even more wonderful!

Carrie™ said...

Another gadget to add to the kitchen's every growing collection! I used to use already ground nutmeg back in the olden days before I knew better. Now I buy the nuts and grate as I need. It makes a huge difference. The only problem I have is when the nut gets to be small from previous gratings. It's hard to hold. Do you have any suggestions, solutions?

Freedom said...

I have to admit I saw 'fresh grated nutmeg' in lots of TEV recipes and thought to myself "yeah right, out comes that little red pot of ground nutmeg," but now I'm not so sure...
BTW, did you get my e-mail last week?

Isil S. said...

I love nutmeg. As you mention it's not expensive and once you buy a few nutmegs it lasts for a long time. I love adding it to soups,sometimes to cakes.

Dreena said...

Dragonslayer, I'll thank Kai for answering you... we don't have bulk barn in our area, but even in grocery stores nutmeg is easy to find - good luck!

Kai, I used to grate nutmeg with a fine grater, and then when I got the rasp I couldn't believe how easy it was to use!! Do you use it for other whole spices too? Oh, ditto on the lemon zester. That used to be time-consuming too, but not with the rasp!

Hee, no Megan, it's not your hands! I find that if I don't press too hard my fingers are less likely to slip. Just a little pressure. Also, when it's really small it can be dangerous!! I've grated my fingers more times on a regular grater with things like carrots than using the rasp. Oh, also, if you have one wihout a handle like mine is, I lay mine flat, horizontally over my bowl and then keep it in place with one hand and grate with the other. Don't know if you hold it vertically, but I find that helps me with the grating. The hazards of good cooking, eh? (I'd better watch it or I'll soon be doing the Bob & Doug McKenzie how's it goin' eh?) Wait now, maybe you're too young to know that!!

Oh, yes, get yourself a rasp Tanya. Then keep fresh lemons/limes/oranges on hand, and fresh zest is seconds away! Thank youuuuuu, btw!! :) If you are thinking of making the Chickpea Mash Stew, you can check out my post here: That way you can see what it looks like and cooking info too. You can search my blog for other recipes too if you are curious what it looks like - you may be in luck that I've posted a pic!! :)

Urban vegan, you still have time, it's not too late! :) Seriously, though, I'm not posh or fussy about food in general, I just like real food that tastes great. If you saw my kitchen set up you'd realize just how basic my things are. Not many gadgets or appliances, etc. But this rasp/microplane grater is so inexpensive you can't go wrong. And nutmeg is not $$ either, so the fresh nutmeg is a really nice touch in recipes!!

Chris, it's a one-way street with these things! Kind of like fresh herbs too. I still use dried, but whenever I can I use fresh because they offer up much more flavor.

Vicki, get one!!! I saw on your blog that you are loving fresh lemon zest in recipes now, and really, this is the EASIEST way to get the zest that I have found. I have a zester and used to use that. I didn't realize how arduous that process was until I got the rasp! Instant zest. The zest is very fine of course, not as thick and "pretty" as with the zester, but I'm all for efficiency and the rasp is a zesting star!

Kleo, I LOVE nutmeg. I loved egg nog growing up, and well that's generously seasoned with nutmeg. You will adore freshly grated if you already love the pre-ground nutmeg.

Carrie, nothing like my encouragement to shop, hey??! More stuff for your kitchen drawers! Really, though, this gadget I think you'll use over and over. I find the nutmeg easier to hold and grate with the rasp/microplane grater. I agree that with a fine grater, even when the nutmeg is only 1/2 used, it's tricky to handle without slipping and getting your fingers. With the rasp, I don't have as much trouble. You don't need to apply as much pressure, and you grind the nutmeg quickly. Also, I lay the rasp over my bowl horizontally so it is balanced on the bowl. Then, I hold it with one hand and grate with the other, and it's easier for me to manage than the fine grater was. hmmm, hope that helps! :)

Freedom, no, I didn't get your e-mail. That's strange. If you sent it to, can you resend it? Maybe it got directed to my 'trash'. Sorry if that's the case. I'll be on the lookout for it! :)

Oooh, Isil, what soups do you add it to?? Sounds interesting. I like it in some potato dishes too. You're right, it last a VERY long time, so you can't go wrong really!!

Crystal & Ryan - Café Cyan said...

Freshly grated nutmeg is a must! I use my microplane grater for it. I love looking at the inside of the nutmeg; it is so pretty.


Hanuman1960 said...

Just stumbled onto your blog! It's Faaabulous!

Whenever I think of nutmeg, I always think of a "King of the Hill" episode where Peggy makes her famous Apple Brown Betty (which I think she called "Apple Brown Peggy") and their new next door neighbor, Min, tries one bite and says: "It missing something. Missing flavor. Try nutmeg."

That always cracks me up!

Anyway, great blog! I'm looking forward to checking out the archives!

jess (of Get Sconed!) said...

Dreena, sadly I do not have your book (I am that broke) but, I'm looking for fennel ideas and folks are proclaiming you their goddess of fennel! ; )

Any simple ideas?

Dreena said...

Crystal, that's so true... I love the look of the nutmeg inside too - and my 5 year old daughter loves to grate it on the microplane with me too!

Welcome hanuman! Thanks a bunch! That's funny... I can hear the intonation... I haven't watched that show in years, but I have seen some episodes in the past. Imagine, King of the Hill inspiring us to use nutmeg!! Funny!

Jess, that's a riot! Well, I do love fennel, I must admit. Raw, it has a very anise/licorice flavor, so if you like that flavor, add it to salads. I slice it VERY thinly and then it adds a nice crunch to salads. Remove the fronds and core to do so, and also any really tough outer bit and any bruising/browning if there's some on the outside. Oh, the fronds can be used like a leafy herb if you want, in salads, or to garnish foods, soups, etc. My very favorite thing to do with fennel is to roast it. Slice it, toss with olive oil, s&p and roast for oh, about 15-20 minutes at a high heat (about 425) (longer if needed). Cook until caralized and softened. Toss a couple of times while cooking. If you have a grill, you can grill it too. Or chop and saute - again, it will soften and the licorice flavor really mellows and it just gets sweet and lovely! Add to pastas, bean dishes, etc. I also posted about it a couple of weeks back, sauteeing it and adding to a chicpkea patty mixture, here: We've gotta win you a book so you can try those out! (I may run a contest during the summer, hint, hint)

It's wonderful, wonderful stuff. Can you tell I like it?! :)

jess (of Get Sconed!) said...

Thank you Dreena! You came through 100% on that one, wow. I have what looks like baby fennel? It's not chunky with big bulbs like I've others I've seen before.
I was *almost* as brave enough to use it tonight, but I ended up going a different route for dinner. I did put some in my salad tommorow. I have to admit, I'm wary of my distaste for licorice, but I really want to like fennel. I could deal with it raw, I tried a piece. I've had it before in stir fries, and it didn't overpower too much.
Tommorow night I hope to roast it with some potatoes! Thanks again!

Rebecca said...

Does anyone know how much of a whole nutmeg is able to be grated and used? I am worried that I have grated too much of the outside hull and am going to have woody pieces in my food.

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