Tincture of Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) 1:3 45%
Myristica fragrans, organic grain alcohol
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Over the holidays you might grate delicious, aromatic nutmeg seed into hot chocolate or infuse bread sauce with mace, but do you know the surprising connection between nutmeg and New York and this plant's wild history of war and intrigue? Here is our Christmas bonus to you, the potted history of the Nutmeg Tree.
The tropical tree known as Myristica fragans it is the only plant in the world to produce *two* different spices at once. In this gorgeous photo by Terence Coombes you can see the nutmeg fruit with the seed enclosed in the lacy red aril which is mace. Nutmeg has been at the centre of many scandals and power struggles throughout history including recent scare stories about the hallucinatory effects of nutmeg overdose. Large amounts of nutmeg can cause intoxication, vomiting and hallucination, which may sound fun, but it can cause serious poisoning despite its deliciousness in everyday use.
The first recorded use of nutmeg and mace dates back over 3,500 years and became wildly popular in food and as a protection against plague in Medieval Europe and remains part of our modern kitchen and herbal dispensary.
Nutmeg originates from few small islands in western Indonesia which were once the only place where the precious aromatic nutmeg and clove trees grew. These islands became known as the Spice Islands as colonial business interests shone a fierce light on this region after nutmeg became a famous new spice in the West. In the 16th Century wars raged for these lands and their precious spice commodities, now known as the Spice Wars. In a bid to continue their hold on the global trade of beloved nutmeg, the Dutch government exchanged their island colony of New Amsterdam for the nutmeg rich island of Run, in Indonesia. In a turn of events, nutmeg seeds were sucessfully cultivated in the Caribbean and south Asia (Grenada even displayed nutmeg on its flag briefly), breaking the monopoly on the supply of this precious spice. And new Amsterdam they traded away for the beautiful nutmeg plantation island? It became modern day New York.
Nutmeg is a potent traditional remedy for calming the body and mind, with thousands of years of use behind it. Medical Herbalists may add carefully measured amounts to bespoke blends for soothing anxiety, aiding sleep, calming the stomach and aiding digestion. It is important to avoid large doses, but culinary use is fine (use caution during pregnancy).
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