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Big Island farmers supply fresh nutmeg

  • COURTESY RAE HUO
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Next to cinnamon, nutmeg is a favorite spice, adding an aromatic, sweet and spicy note to so many preparations. Not only is it part of the pumpkin pie spice mixture we all love, and a good addition to eggnog, cookies, cakes, crackers and pastries, nutmeg also adds a precious note to meat, cabbage and potato dishes as well as white sauces, stews and soup.

Whole nutmeg is the preferred way of using this spice, since ground nutmeg loses its punch quickly. Good-quality whole nutmeg is hard and heavy for its weight but is easily "ground" on a nutmeg grater or in a nutmeg grinder.

Did you know that nutmeg grows in Hawaii? Several Big Island farmers have trees that produce nutmeg, the seed of a fruit. The seed is surrounded by a red lacy membrane that becomes mace after it is dried and ground. Mace has a more delicate flavor, good with seafood and light meat dishes.

Look for fresh nutmeg at the KCC Farmers Market at the Wailea Ag Group tent. And look around for other spices that make their way to farmers markets, such as cinnamon, allspice and cloves.

Hawaii food writer Joan Namkoong offers a weekly tidbit on fresh seasonal products, many of them locally grown. Look for "Fresh Tips" every Wednesday in the Star-Advertiser.
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