Does Nutmeg Go Bad? – Full Analysis

by Charlie

Does nutmeg go bad? Yes, nutmeg can go bad. Nutmeg can go bad if it is not stored correctly. When it is stored correctly it can last for years. Also the shelf life depends on whether it is whole or ground nutmeg.

As with most spices, the taste and smell degrades with time so if you do not use this spice a lot, you should consider purchasing just a small pack.

How to Tell if Nutmeg is Bad?

Smell: Before you use nutmeg, make sure that you smell it. If it has some type of off-smell, this is a sign that you should get rid of it.

Formation of mold: If your nutmeg has been exposed to water, this is when fungal growth can start and for a clustered, spongy surface. This is referred to as mold formation. Exposure to water leads to the spoilage of nutmeg and if you see mold, it is no longer safe to use so throw it away

Potency: Over time the flavor and aroma will degrade so always check its potency if it has been stored for a long period of time. To do this, rub some of the ground nutmeg between your fingers. Then you can either smell or taste it. If the smell and flavor is not off, then it is safe to use. If the flavor is not strong enough, throw it away. This nutmeg will add nothing to your recipe. 

How Long Does Nutmeg Last? Shelf Life [Chart]

Types of NutmegRefrigerator
Ground2-3 years
Dried2-3 years
Whole4-5 years

How to Store Nutmeg

Keep it away from moisture, heat, and sunlight: When nutmeg, ground or whole, comes in contact with moisture it can form mold. Overexposure to direct sunlight and heat will degrade the potency and flavor so make sure that you keep nutmeg away from all three. Store it in a cool dark area of your panty.

Do not refrigerate or freeze: Doing either of these will not extend the shelf life but in reality, the humidity inside of the refrigerator or freezer might degrade its quality. Even at room temperatures, it will have a long shelf life if stored properly.

Store in an airtight container: No matter if nutmeg is whole or ground, you need to store it in an airtight container or a zip lock bag. Before you seal the bag, create a vacuum inside.

Store it whole: For longer shelf life, buy nutmeg whole and grate off what you need. The ground nutmeg has higher surface exposure so it can lose its aroma, potency, and flavor faster. 

What is Nutmeg?

Nutmeg is a spice that is made from the seed of the nutmeg tree. The evergreen tree it is from is the source of two popular spices; mace and nutmeg. The inner seed is the nutmeg and mace is the lace-like substance that covers the seed. Nutmeg is considered an autumn spice.

To make it for seasoning, the seeds are dried gradually in the sun. It takes six to eight weeks and during that time it will shrink away from the hard seed coat. When the kernels rattle in their shells when you shake them, it means that the spice is ready. Before it is packaged, it will be dried to make sure that it will last longer.

What Types of Food Contain Nutmeg?

Nutmeg is known for its deep and earthy flavor, so it adds a lot of dimensions to any food that is placed in.

Nutmeg originally comes from Indonesia and it spread around to neighboring countries like India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and the Philippines. So, this spice occurs naturally in many dishes from these cultures. But nutmeg is also found in a lot of Western and European dishes as well. It can be added to soups, stews, meat, puddings, and beer and mulled wine. 

Perhaps the most popular food that has nutmeg is pumpkin based foods. In North America, especially in the United States, these pumpkin base foods come out mainly during the fall and winter. Whenever there is a food flavored with pumpkin, it will also contain cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and sugar. That means if a restaurant or coffee shop sells pumpkin lattes, it will most likely contain nutmeg.

If you have never had a pumpkin spice latte, then you are truly missing out. This drink, which contains a good amount of nutmeg, is the most popular drink during the fall and winter. The drink is popular with the holiday season and the changing of the weather that many people call fall and winter the pumpkin spice months.

What are the Nutritional Benefits of Nutmeg?

Although it may not seem like this tiny nut would have any health benefits, nutmeg is surprisingly good for you. One of the greatest health benefits that nutmeg can provide for the human body is antioxidants.

Nutmeg contains a lot of antioxidants which is great for fighting cancer and different types of diseases like heart disease and liver disease. In Indonesian and Indian traditional medicines, nutmeg is used as a vitality booster.

In modern-day terms, this means that nutmeg is used to fight off depression and balance a person’s moods. Nutmeg is also a good source of different vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, vitamin E, manganese, copper, phosphorus, zinc, and much more.

Because of how small nutmeg is, it cannot be eaten in large quantities. But the best way to ensure that you eat enough nutmeg in your diet is to grate the spice over any drinks or food that you eat.

Many people like to add nutmeg to their coffee when they pour in their coffee creamer. It is also tasty on toast, pancakes and waffles. 

Cooking with Nutmeg

In the kitchen, this is a very basic spice that has a unique aroma and is sour and spicy at the same time. The dishes that are mostly used with nutmeg are sweet dishes, like puddings, cakes, cookies, and custards.

Health Benefits of Nutmeg

  • It is rich in antioxidants and can help to protect against many chronic diseases and help prevent cellular damage.
  • It may help reduce inflammation by inhibiting inflammatory enzymes.
  • Has antibacterial effects against potentially harmful bacteria
  • May help to boost your mood, reduce the factors for heart disease, and enhance blood sugar control.

Conclusion

  • Nutmeg will go bad quicker if it comes in contact with direct sunlight and water.
  • Ground nutmeg has a shorter shelf life than whole nutmeg.
  • Nutmeg originally comes from Indonesia, and the spice can be found in many of their dishes.
  • It is also a popular spice in India, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka.
  • Nutmeg has a lot of health benefits that can boost a person’s immune system. It can also help fight off liver disease and cancer.
  • Generally it is safe to use nutmeg past its expiration date but if there is mold on it, throw it away.
  • When buying ground nutmeg, also look to see the date it was ground so you know when to figure how long the shelf life is.
  • If you use a lot of nutmeg and buy it in bulk, store it in small amounts in an airtight jar or container and store it in the pantry. This way, you are only opening one container or jar at a time, keeping the rest fresh.
  • Because it needs to stay away from heat and moisture, never grate it over food on the stove.

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