There are two spices derived from the fruit of the Myristica fragrans tree, nutmeg and mace. The spices were originally derived from the Spice Islands of Indonesia. Mace comes from the red lacy covering of the stone-like seed, while nutmeg is made from the seed itself.
I have only ever used the ground form of nutmeg. Foodies profess they only use freshly grated nutmeg. I finally decided to try it out to see what all the hype was about. I purchased a bottle of Spice Island Whole nutmeg. It is not gourmet from Whole Foods, it was the only brand the market carried. I started with my favorite holiday recipe Pumpkin Chip Cookies. I was all set to go with my Microplane in one hand and a nutmeg seed in the other. Problem was I was uncertain what to do. Was I supposed to crack the seed open? Is the seed it? I turned to the internet but could not find anything on grating nutmeg. I concluded I would grate the seed and hope for the best.
The only difference I could tell was that the freshly grated nutmeg seemed to blend in in a silky smooth way. The powdered form of nutmeg can sometimes be overpowering. I paid $6.59 for a bottle of 14 seeds. Cost-wise it is a good deal. I made two recipes and barley used a quarter of the seed. Grated nutmeg may be substituted for ground simply by adding a smidgen less of the fresh stuff.
To grate nutmeg gently rub against the sharp edges of a microplane in a back and forth motion. Keep the hollow side turned up to catch the shavings. It makes it easier to see how much you have grated.