Tamil Name : Jathikai - ஜாதிக்காய்
Malayalam Name : Jathikai
Hindi Name : Jaiphal
Telugu Name : Jaji Kaya
Binomial Name : Myristica fragrans
Nutmeg nutrition facts
Pleasantly aromatic, nutmeg is actually seed kernel of fruit-nutmeg. It is one of the highly prized spices known since antiquity for its aromatic, aphrodisiac, and curative properties. Nutmegs are evergreen trees, native to the rain forest Indonesian Moluccas Island; also known as the Spice Islands.
Botanically, the plant belongs to Myristicaceae family of medium to large trees. Its scientific name is: Myristica fragrans. Besides M. fragrans, several other species of Myristica grown all over the tropical regions including M. argentea, M. malabarica (Indian), and M. fatua. Although they are similar in appearance to M. fragrans, they, however, have less intense flavor and aroma and command less price.
nutmeg and mace
Raw nutmeg fruit. Note for central seed and "lacy" mace.
(Photo by-giselleai) Note orange color mace enveloping the dried whole nutmegs.
Photo courtesy by Cooking with herbs and spices book.
This spice tree is a large evergreen plant that thrives well under tropical climates. A fully-grown tree may reach about 50-60 feet in height and is the source of nutmeg and mace, two invaluable spices. The nutmeg fruit, indeed, is a drupe about the size of an apricot which up on ripening splits-up to reveal single, centrally situated oval shaped hard kernel popular as "nutmeg spice." This seed kernel is closely enwrapped by crimson-red, lacy or thread like arils known as "mace." Both spices feature a similar warm, sweet aromatic flavor.
Nutmeg tree yields up to three times in a season. Once harvested from the tree, its outer coat or husk is removed and discarded. Just underneath the tough husk is the golden-brown color aril, known as "mace," which firmly enveloping around the nutmeg kernel. Mace is gently peeled-off from its kernel surface, flattened into strips, dried, and sold either as whole (blades) or finely ground powder. Nutmeg kernel is then dried under the sun for several days to weeks. At larger commercial set-ups, this process is accomplished rather more rapidly over a hot drier machine until the whole nutmeg rattles inside the shell.
Its shell is then cu-open and a single, shriveled nutmeg kernel is then taken out. Finally, nuts are dipped in lime-water in order to prevent insect infestation and seed germination.
Health benefits of nutmeg
Nutmeg and mace spice contains many plant-derived chemical compounds that are known to have been anti-oxidant, disease preventing, and health promoting properties.
The spicy nut contains fixed oil trimyristin and many essential volatile oils such as which gives a sweet aromatic flavor to nutmeg such as myristicin, elemicin, eugenol and safrole. The other volatile-oils are pinene, camphene, dipentene, cineole, linalool, sabinene, safrole, terpeniol.
The active principles in nutmeg have many therapeutic applications in many traditional medicines as anti-fungal, anti-depressant, aphrodisiac, digestive, and carminative functions.
This spice is a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, zinc and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese and copper are used by the body as co-factors for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is essential for red blood cell production and as a co-factor for cytochrome oxidases enzymes.
It is also rich in many vital B-complex vitamins, including vitamin C, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin A and many flavonoid anti-oxidants like beta-carotene and cryptoxanthin that are essential for optimum health.
Since ancient times, nutmeg and its oil were being used in Chinese and Indian traditional medicines for illnesses related to the nervous and digestive systems. The compounds in this spice such as myristicin and elemicin have been soothing as well as stimulant properties on brain.