The african nutmeg

African Nutmeg Unveiled: Debunking the Myth of the "False Nutmeg"

The African Nutmeg, or also known as the "False Nutmeg" is a versatile spice that is gaining popularity and the attention of foodies in the west. It is surprisingly a magical spice with tons of health benefits. What makes it so special? And why was it called “False Nutmeg"? Prepare your mind blown as we unravel the truth about this promising spice.  

THE BEAUTY OF THE FALSE NUTMEG

Divine beauty. The African nutmeg’s flowers resemble orchids. Thus, was called as the “Fake Orchid”. Photo by JBRJ.
Divine beauty. The African nutmeg’s flowers resemble orchids. Thus, was called as the “Fake Orchid”. Photo by JBRJ. 

The African Nutmeg, scientifically known as “Monodora myristica”, belongs to the Annonacea family. The cousin of the widely known Nutmeg with scientific name “Myristica fragrans”. The oval fruit of this evergreen tree is split open to reveal the brown seed which is used as the spice. The African Nutmeg tree can grow up to 35 meters tall and has a dense foliage of glossy leaves. Its flowers were dubbed as the Fake Orchid since it has these uniquely beautiful upside-down red and yellow flowers with twisted, tiger petals just like the orchids!  

A closer look at the gorgeous Monodora Myristica flower or also known as the African Nutmeg. Photo by Michel VIARD from Getty Images.
A closer look at the gorgeous Monodora Myristica flower or also known as the African Nutmeg. Photo by Michel VIARD from Getty Images. 

THE AFRICAN NUTMEG GROWS IN THE TROPICS

The African nutmeg tree is found growing in evergreen, deciduous forest, primary and secondary forests on sandy to rocky soils, mostly along rivers or in swampy regions. It has a clear trunk and branches horizontally.  Photo by Wendy Cutler.
The African nutmeg tree is found growing in evergreen, deciduous forest, primary and secondary forests on sandy to rocky soils, mostly along rivers or in swampy regions. It has a clear trunk and branches horizontally Photo by Wendy Cutler. 

The African Nutmeg is native to the tropics of the sub-Saharan African regions in West Africa. It can be found in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Liberia, Cameroon, Angola and Tanzania. The spice is often called Ehuru”, “Calabash Nutmeg”, “Jamaican Nutmeg”, “False Nutmeg” and “Awerewain some countries to name a few. 

WHY DUBBED THE AFRICAN NUTMEG AS THE "FALSE NUTMEG"?

The African nutmeg fruit, also known as the Monodora myristica, is native to West Africa and has been used for centuries in African cuisine. The fruit is about the size of a small and has a unique flavor profile that is a cross between nutmeg and cinnamon, with a hint of sweetness. The fragrance alone is enough to make your mouth water! Photo by farewellfruitfarm.com
The fruit is about the size of a small and has a unique flavor profile that is a cross between nutmeg and cinnamon, with a hint of sweetness. The fragrance alone is enough to make your mouth water! Photo by farewellfruitfarm.com 

The African Nutmeg is oftentimes confused with the regular Nutmeg hence the name. Though it has this “False” connotation, it is not fake or imitation nutmeg. It is a different spice altogether. True nutmeg comes from the Myristica fragrans tree, which is native to the Spice Islands in Indonesia. Unlike the true nutmeg, the African nutmeg does not have the mace, which is another spice that can be taken out from the nutmeg fruit. We’ll discuss more about the true nutmeg in a separate blog post, so better stay tuned! 

Nutmeg and mace come from the tropical tree, Myristica fragrans. Nutmeg trees originate in the Spice Islands, an archipelago of the eastern part of Indonesia. Photo by Dwain Thomas from Getty Images.
Nutmeg and mace come from the tropical tree, Myristica fragrans. Nutmeg trees originate in the Spice Islands, an archipelago of the eastern part of Indonesia. Photo by Dwain Thomas from Getty Images. 

WHAT DOES THE AFRICAN NUTMEG TASTE LIKE?

Native to Africa and known as calabash nutmeg, this seed is not widely known in the Western world but has been a staple in African cuisine for centuries. Its flavor is like that of traditional nutmeg, but with a slightly more earthy and smoky taste that adds depth to any dish. Photo by Google images
Its flavor is like that of traditional nutmeg, but with a slightly more earthy and smoky taste that adds depth to any dish. Photo by Google images.

Well, it's obvious from the name itself that it tastes like the regular nutmeg that we know. For people who have never tasted nutmeg in their lives, it is nutty, earthy and slightly sweet but not sugary. As for the African nutmeg, it is a bit like the regular nutmeg but has deeper woodiness, less aromatic and distinctly more bitter. Its flavor is intensified when toasted, so it’s perfect for savory dishes like soups, stews, African salads and desserts like pudding and cakes.   

BE CREATIVE WITH THE AFRICAN NUTMEG SPICE!

Use the spice in moderation. While African nutmeg is a popular spice in West African cuisine and can be used as a substitute for true nutmeg, it has a stronger flavor and should be used in moderation. Photo by Drbouz from Getty Images Signature.
While African nutmeg is a popular spice in West African cuisine and can be used as a substitute for true nutmeg, it has a stronger flavor and should be used in moderation. Photo by Drbouz from Getty Images Signature. 

African Nutmeg can be used in a variety of recipes, both sweet and savory. Here are some ideas: 

  • Add it to your morning coffee or tea for a warm and comforting flavor.

  • Sprinkle it on roasted vegetables like sweet potatoes or carrots for a unique twist.

  • Use it in marinades for meat or seafood to add depth of flavor.

  • Add it to your favorite baked goods like cakes or cookies for a warm and spicy flavor.

  • Use it as a seasoning for soups and stews to add warmth and complexity to the dish.

HEALTH WONDERS OF THE AFRICAN NUTMEG

The African Nutmeg is truly a hidden gem that more people need to know about. Its versatility in the kitchen and its potential to improve our health make it a must-have in any pantry. Photo by Naasnaturals via Etsy.
The African Nutmeg is truly a hidden gem that more people need to know about. Its versatility in the kitchen and its potential to improve our health make it a must-have in any pantry. Photo by Naasnaturals via Etsy. 

Like most spices, the African nutmeg does not disappoint! It is loaded with tons of health benefits anybody will be glad to know. From healthy glowing skin to a good night sleep, this spice has a lot to offer. Look out for our separate blog post featuring the health benefits of the African Nutmeg. Be sure to subscribe to our emails for the latest updates and blog releases! (scroll down to the bottom of the page and provide your email address to subscribe).

Whether you're a foodie, chef, or home cook, African nutmeg is a spice that is sure to impress. So why not give it a try and see what tasty recipes you can come up with? 

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1 comment

I love to use it in porage and cake

Omar

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