This spice comes from the nutmeg tree, which grows in tropical climates and actually yields two spices. The crinkled, hard nutmeg "nut" itself is encased in a lacy scarlet membrane which, when dried and ground, becomes mace.
Though nutmeg is often used in baking, combined with other sweet spices like cinnamon and cloves, its warm, peppery flavor crosses over successfully to the savory arena, too, lifting spinach and cheese dishes, béchamel sauces, Greek lamb casseroles, and Italian vegetable stews to delicious heights.
Although you can buy nutmeg already ground, nutmeg's highly volatile oils have the most punch when you grate whole nutmeg freshly into a dish
A Microplane grater makes fast work of grating nutmeg. You can also buy a nutmeg grater especially for this task.
Most manufacturers and merchants agree that whole and ground spices have a two-year shelf life once opened, if stored away from heat (under 68ºF is best), humidity (no higher than 60%), light, and strong odors. It’s a good idea to write the date of purchase right on the bag or tin.