Whole Nutmeg vs. Ground Nutmeg: Which Is Better?

Whole Nutmeg vs. Ground Nutmeg: Which Is Better?

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Kelli Foster
Oct 3, 2014
(Image credit: HandmadePictures/Shutterstock)

Along with cinnamon, allspice and cloves, nutmeg is one of the wonderful, warm spices that make fall recipes so fragrant and delicious. You'll find it in everything from desserts, like apple and pumpkin pie, to savory dishes, like spiced lamb stew, even coffee to cocktails. And let's not forget pasta!

You can buy nutmeg in two forms — convenient pre-ground nutmeg and whole nutmeg. But which one is actually the better buy? And most importantly, which one has the best flavor?

Ground Nutmeg

In this variety, the nutmeg seed is pre-ground and sold as a fine powder. It's convenient, easy to use and relatively inexpensive. While this spice quite fragrant when you first open the jar, ground nutmeg loses its potency and flavor pretty quickly.

Whole Nutmeg

Whole nutmeg is small, about the size of a plum pit, and is usually sold with 6 to 8 seeds per jar. Grate the seeds for just the amount you need, using a microplane or spice grinder. Unlike ground nutmeg, this variety, lasts indefinitely as long as its stored properly.

What really distinguishes whole nutmeg from its ground counterpart is the potent flavor. Whole nutmeg is stronger tasting and has considerably more flavor.

Which One Is Better?

For the best tasting, nutmeg-spiced dishes, skip the pre-ground stuff and stick with using fresh, whole nutmeg! It has a reliable, super fragrant flavor and can be grated as needed.

Store whole nutmeg in an airtight container, in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight and it will last much longer than the pre-ground variety.

What do you prefer using — whole or ground nutmeg?

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