Nutmeg refers to the seed or ground spice of several species of the Myristica genus, a dark-leaved evergreen tree, cultivated for two spices derived from its fruit: nutmeg and mace.
Until the mid-19th century, the small island group of the Banda Islands, which are also known under the name "Spice Islands", was the only location of the production of the spices nutmeg and mace in the world. The Banda Islands are situated in the eastern part of Indonesia, in the province of Maluku.
Nutmeg is known to have been a prized and costly spice in European medieval cuisine as a flavouring, medicinal, and preservative agent.
Nutmeg and mace have similar sensory qualities, with nutmeg having a slightly sweeter and mace a more delicate flavour. Mace is often preferred in light dishes for the bright orange, saffron-like hue it imparts. Nutmeg is used for flavouring many dishes
Nutmeg butter is obtained from the nut by expression. It is semi-solid, reddish-brown in colour, and tastes and smells of nutmeg.
The essential oil obtained by steam distillation of ground nutmeg is used widely in the perfumery and pharmaceutical industries.