Friday, January 9, 2015

Have you tried Fresh Nutmeg?

I used to think of nutmeg as just an aromatic, brown, powdered spice that I added to my Christmas cookies and desserts. The smell of it brings to mind the image of festive holiday decorations, presents under the tree, and sipping eggnog by a roaring fire. Tasting it is like jumping headfirst into a Currier and Ives print.

Then, I moved to Malaysia and discovered fresh nutmeg. It tastes fruity and light — nothing like the spice. I love nutmeg juice which is a refreshing antidote to heat and humidity. It's a treat you should make sure you try if you visit Penang island. While it's not native to Malaysia, nutmeg trees were cultivated in Penang in the late 18th century by the British East India company as a way to expand their lucrative spice trade.

Nutmeg fruit

Today's guest post is written by 13-year-old Sean K. and photographed by 11-year-old Isaac K., two of the wonderful Malaysian kids I met while living in Penang. Their family and some friends toured the small, family-run Ghee Hup Nutmeg Farm and factory, and I asked them to share their visit with you.


Guest post by Sean K.
Seeds from the nutmeg fruit which will be dried and used as a spice

Last week, a few of us visited the Ghee Hup Nutmeg Farm in Balik Pulau, Penang. Upon arrival, we were warmly welcomed with an all-you-can-drink fresh and cold nutmeg juice. It was followed by a detailed presentation about the nutmeg, and the uses of its many parts. After a short visit to the plantation, led by the owner, we were treated to a sampling of different types of nutmeg products. In addition, visitors are able to enjoy an authentic Hakka meal (at RM250 per table for 10 persons), but this requires prior reservation.

Taking a tour of the Ghee Hup Nutmeg Farm

Nutmeg trees are likely to be seen in Penang, Malaysia. Nutmeg is a spice made from the seed of the Myristica Fragrans tree. This tree is the source of two popular spices, nutmeg and mace. Nutmeg is the seed inside the fruit, while mace is the red aril that envelopes the nutmeg. Mace is the most expensive part of the nutmeg fruit although nutmeg has a stronger flavor than mace. Nutmeg and mace have different uses.

Mace is the red aril membrane around the seed which is is removed and dried.

In foods, the nutmeg and mace are frequently used as spices or flavorings. Therefore, Nutmeg is sometimes made into syrup for drinks. Nutmeg drinks is one of the best thirst quenching drinks! In Penang, the dried nutmeg meat is sometimes added into a famous local dessert, “Ais Kacang”. However, the taste of the raw nutmeg meat is bitter and sour.

Sean samples fresh nutmeg fruit.

There are many other uses of nutmeg. Besides using nutmeg as an ingredient in baking, it can be made into oil which is used for treating diarrhea, nausea, stomach spasms, pain, and intestinal gas. They are local believers in the healing properties of nutmeg to treat cancer and kidney disease. Besides, the nutmeg ointment can be applied to the skin to release pain, rheumatism, mouth sores, toothache, and also used as mosquito repellent.

Learning about nutmeg and its many uses

  • Address: 202-A Jalan Teluk Bahang, Balik Pulau
  • Call phone# 016-433-6303 to confirm if it will be open when you want to visit or to make reservation for the Haka meal.

The Ghee Hup Nutmeg Farm store offers juice, syrup, jam, candied nutmeg and pickled nutmeg as well as oil and balm all made from nutmeg grown on the farm. 

Have you ever tried fresh nutmeg?

This post is part of the following link ups. Check them out for more around-the-world travel inspiration.


  1. I'm from Connecticut, whose official nickname is 'The Nutmeg State' - which means that, since there's really no good way to make 'people from Connecticut' into a good collective noun, an accepted way to refer to us is 'Nutmeggers.'

    It's even funnier to me since of course New England isn't a place where you'd exactly find fresh Nutmeg . . .

  2. Oh, I also learned about the magical qualities of nutmeg on a tour in Malaysia! Haha the hubs even said "wow, we should start manufacturing this stuff in the states more!!!" I still haven't had fresh nutmeg though, just the spice stuff:-)

  3. I have never tried fresh nutmeg. It is not readily available this side of the world (in Kenya).Nutmeg, the spice is not common here either. Come to think of it I do not think I have ever tasted nutmeg.

  4. No, I haven't, but I think I should. I'm pretty sure that I've never seen a nutmeg fruit either -- in person or in a photo! What a tasting and interesting experience visiting the farm and factory.

  5. I have tried, and really like, nutmeg but have never tried it fresh. You have a lovely blog.

  6. Amazing, I've used nutmeg as a spice and I NEVER knew all of this about it in it's natural form! :)


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