The roughly egg-shaped, hard, brown nutmeg seed has a wonderful, warm, spicy-sweet flavor that actually tastes like a bit of allspice combined with some black pepper or cloves. This is why it is popularly added to sweet, savory and spicy dishes like puddings, custards, pies, spice cakes, white sauces, baked foods, etc. in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. Moreover, in Penang cuisine (Malaysia), nutmeg is prepared into pickle, whereas, in European cuisine, it is used in processed meat products and potato dishes. This versatile nutmeg spice comes from the evergreen tree, Myristica fragrans, indigenous to Banda islands in Indonesia. The seed from the tree is dried and used in powdered form. Nutmegs are ground with the help of a nutmeg grater, prior to being added to culinary creations.
Nutmeg graters are very useful for those who love to add freshly ground nutmeg in their recipes. Those who have tasted both commercially available, bottled nutmeg powder and the freshly ground one know the difference. Freshly ground nutmeg simply adds a glorious, rich flavor to the beverage or dish. Moreover, when you have a large array of graters available, why not get one and enjoy the fresh flavors it imparts to your meal!
In general, a nutmeg grater is a tool with a fine-rasp and a slightly curved surface. By rubbing the nutmeg over the grater's curved surface, the seed can be ground. This grater basically contains tiny holes in it. Some graters have back units or containers meant for storing the nutmeg, while others have containers with turning handles that grate the nutmeg from the inside. These graters are either made from stainless steel, chrome or clear acrylic. Kitchen appliance stores offer a wide variety of nutmeg graters, that comes in all kinds of shapes, sizes and styles.
Antique Nutmeg Grater
Between 1780 and 1840, two main types of nutmeg graters were prevalent. One was the portable type, while the other was the table type. It was only in the late 18th century that silver nutmeg graters were being systematically manufactured. Soon nutmeg additions to brandy, juices and other dishes surged in popularity with the elite class of Britons, which spearheaded the manufacture of nutmeg graters.
At that time, the nutmeg graters were either cylindrical or semi-circular with hinged bases and divided interiors. Then came the graters that were in the form of small boxes, which could be carried around in the pockets. It was a small silver container fitted with a grater plane on the inside. This plane was attached on one side and allowed the grated nutmeg to fall into the box. The Victorian era saw barrel-shaped graters that unscrewed the nutmeg at the center. Even elaborate graters with fancy engravings, rococo piercing, geometric motifs, etc. were also seen. Decorative enamel nutmeg graters also became popular.
While selecting a grater, choose one that best suits your needs. Decide whether you want a mill or a hand grater. Mills are kinder on the knuckles, however, hand graters are small and handy to use. If you are getting the hand grater, just be careful about your knuckles. The container ones are also good, as they store the nutmeg in them till next use. If you are planning to get the mill or handle type, check that the handle rotates properly.
Wash the grater immediately after use. Particles stuck in the blade on the rear side should be removed. For particles stuck in the front, you should first soak the grater in warm water and then with the help of cleaning brush move in the direction of the teeth, thereby loosening adhering particles. Moreover, do not forget to check for the manufacturer's instructions regarding cleaning and maintaining the grater.
One benefit of getting nutmeg graters is that they can be used to grate other items like cinnamon, garlic cloves, chocolate, lemon zest, etc. as well. Freshly ground cinnamon can be added to your tea, pies, cookies, oatmeal, etc. Getting this grater will definitely enhance the flavors of the dishes you prepare. A bag of nutmeg, along with a nutmeg grater will definitely be a gourmet's delight.