Nutmeg is the seed of an evergreen plant that grows in Asia, Australasia and the Caribbean. A whole nutmeg in its shell can last up to 9 years, while grated nutmeg may have a shelf life of a year or less. Grating fresh nutmeg off the seed will impart a stronger, fresher smell and flavor to your recipes.
Method 1 of 2:Using a Grater/Zester
1Purchase a Microplane zester/grater. These stainless steel kitchen utensils have sharper edges than regular zesters or graters and they are ideal for grating hard spices like nutmeg and mace.
If you don't have access to this type of zester, use a nutmeg grater or a small zester. You need a very sturdy grater with small, hard holes to adequately grind the hard seed.
2Buy a jar of whole nutmeg seeds. Make sure they are sold in the shell. Once the shell is broken on the seed, the expiration date moves from nine years to three years.
3Crack the shell of a nutmeg seed open. Smash it between the cutting board and a strong knife or plate. Don't worry about breaking the seed itself.
4Peel away the shell, cracking more shell as needed.
5Hold your Microplane or nutmeg grater at a 45-degree angle to your cutting board. Grasp it on the plastic handle and rest the other end on the cutting board.
6Grasp the tip of the nutmeg seed with your thumb and forefinger. It is best to try to keep your fingers as far away from the grater as possible.
7Slide the edge of the nutmeg in a fluid motion down two inches (5cm) of the grater. Repeat until you have a small pile of ground nutmeg on your cutting board. You can turn the Microplane over and wipe the back of it with your finger to harvest any nutmeg grounds that become stuck.
For a light dusting on top of a cold or warm drink, hold the grater above a cup and use shorter motions.
8Use approximately three-fourths of the nutmeg measure that is called for in your recipe. Freshly grated nutmeg is stronger than ground nutmeg.
Method 2 of 2:Using a Nut Mill
1Purchase a nut mill, spice grinder or nutmeg grinder from a kitchen retailer. Choose a model with stainless steel parts so that it is easy to clean and has a long life.
2Buy fresh whole nutmeg. You can find three to six seeds in a glass spice jar at the supermarket or buy it by the seed in a spice shop. Choose nutmeg that is still in its shell.
3Crack the nutmeg shell off by pressing a plate or knife turned sideways on the nut while it is on the cutting board. Point the knife blade away from you.
4Open the nut mill. Load the chamber about two-thirds full with a nutmeg seed. Close the top.
5Pick up the mill and place it on the surface where you want your grated nutmeg to fall. Turn the crank on the nut mill/grinder in a clockwise direction.
6Turn the crank until you have enough nutmeg to use in your recipe. Use between one-half and three-fourths the measure indicated for pre-ground nutmeg.
7Keep the nutmeg inside the mill. Close the top and grind fresh nutmeg without refilling the grinder each time you need it.