The nutmeg tree, Myristica fragrans is indigenous to the Moluccas, Indonesia. The fruit contains a nut, which is covered by a hard shell. A red coloured webbing (known as mace) covers the shell. Once ripe the fruit will open revealing the mace and will fall to the ground to be collected or it can be picked just before falling. The mace will be carefully removed leaving the nutmeg (nut) available to be ground and processed.
The oil is extracted from the 'nut' by steam distillation after the grinding of the nutmeg.
The nutmeg is slightly sweeter than mace making the dry or ground spice a favourite in many culinary dishes. As an essential oil it is extensively used in perfumery and pharmaceuticals as well as a natural flavouring for baked goods, beverages, syrups and sweets.
Indonesia exports around 350-400MT of nutmeg oil each year which accounts for around 80% of the global production. Today the product is predominately plantation harvested.
Read more about the impact of recent plantations in our latest Elementary Report.
Read our latest report on Indonesia presented in October 2015 at the IFEAT conference in Sri Lanka, titled 'Indonesia - Current & Future Market Dynamics'
Numerous reports of adulteration with substances like phthalates, higher methyl eugenol, higher safrole have been reported in the supply of nutmeg oils. While this is a massive area of concern, rigorous quality control procedures have helped in identifying the problem and ensured that users are safe from any contaminations. Prices could move on an upward trend as there is an increase in demand for this product in the flavour industry.
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