. . . go on to read "The Nutmeg Story" by John R. Groome . . .
Grenadian housewives always have known that there's more to the nutmeg then export of a fragrant spice. They know lots can be done with the pericarp, the yellow, fleshy, outer covering of the nutmeg. They know it can be candied. They know, too, that it makes delicious jam, jelly and syrup.
For many years, however, no attempt was made to produce these exotic delicacies on a commercial scale. Each housewife made nutmeg jam and jelly for just her family or for friends. But, this made use of only small amounts of the pericarp while most of this resource rotted where it fell to the ground under the trees.
Somewhere about 1970, however, a pioneer Grenadian entrepreneur, Sybil la Grenade, decided to do something about this waste. Surprisingly, her initial aim was not to produce nutmeg jam and jelly. She looked in another direction. She had a priceless advantage which no one shared, and she set out to exploit it.
The fact is that the La Grenade family has a secret formula for production of a top-class liqueur from the nutmeg pericarp. That secret has been in the family for many years and there's a fascinating story behind this.
According the the family legend, one of the La Grenade ancestors once did a favour for a Dutch missionary who had worked in the Banda Islands - present day Indonesia - where the nutmeg originated. It seems that, while in the Far East, this missionary, by some means, had acquired this closely guarded formula and, in gratitude, he disclosed the secret to the La Grenade ancestor.
Since then, the formula has been developed, improved and handed down from generation to generation. The rule is that, in each generation, only one member of the family is allowed to know the formula and, in her generation, Sybil was the person entrusted with the secre
Until recently, the secret formula had never been exploited for commercial purposes, production having always been limited to just a few bottles for family use. But, Sybil saw a golden opportunity in this situation. The time had come, she felt, to share the exquisite taste of this product with others, and she launched a cottage industry with production of La Grenada Liqueur geared to supply the local market.
It was an instant success. Demand grew and, soon, nutmeg jam, jelly and syrup were being produced under the brand name of "Morne Délice", the "Mountain of Delight", the verdant peak which stands near the la Grenada factory.
Success followed success, production expanded to include exports throughout the Caribbean, to Europe and the United States, and, in 1990 came international recognition.
In that year, Morne Délice Nutmeg Syrup was honoured by "Monde Selection, International Institute for Quality Selections", the official institution established in 1961 by the Belgian Government for universally maintaining high standards of beverages and food produced for human consumption.
Each year, applying quality criteria laid down by the European Union, and after exhaustive laboratory tests and analyses by experts, Monde Selection awards three categories of medals, Gold, Silver and Bronze. Above these, products of absolutely superior quality receive the Grand Gold Medal.
In 1990, Morne Délice Nutmeg Syrup became the first Caribbean food product to receive the Grand Gold Medal. In that year also, another La Grenada product was recognised by these quality experts. Monde Selection presented La Grenade Liqueur with its Gold Medal.
In 1992, the La Grenada and Morne Délice products passed out of the "cottage industry" category when a modern food processing plant was commissioned.
And that plant has been very carefully laid out. One section is devoted to the Morne Délice products and is open to all the workers. Visitors also are welcome but the other section of the factory lies behind closed doors.
That's where La Grenada Liqueur is produced. Now under the management of Cécile La Grenade, Sybil's daughter and the present custodian of the secret, this section of the factory is carefully guarded from intruders. Stainless steel pipes convey the finished liqueur from this sanctuary to the bottling division on the main floor, but only Cécile knows what happens behind those locked doors.
"Many attempts have been made to get the secret from us", she says, "but we have always managed to preserve it."
Cécile disclosed that the production process involves careful selection of ingredients to complement the nutmeg component, but declined to give any details of the distillation process or say whether there is any ageing of the product.
The domestic use of nutmeg to create exotic productions was given a boost when, in the latter part of 1993, the Grenada Board of Tourism launched a contest in the United States of America for the best cake using nutmeg as a major ingredient.
This contest marked the 150th anniversary of the planting of the first nutmeg tree in Grenada, and the winning entry was appropriately named "Numero Uno Nutmeg Cake". Here is the recipe :-
For Cake :-
1 Cup cake flour
1 Teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 Cup cornstarch
2 Teaspoons baking powder
1 cup almonds, toasted and ground
1 Stick butter
1 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup milk
5 Egg whites
For Nutmeg Syrup:-
2 Tablespoons Sugar
2 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon dark rum
1 Teaspoon nutmeg
For Nutmeg-rum Cream :-
2 Cups whipping cream
1/3 Cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon dark rum
1/4 Teaspoon nutmeg
3 Firm ripe bananas.
To make nutmeg syrup.
Bring sugar and water to boil in small saucepan.
Cook and stir until sugar dissolves.
Stir in rum and nutmeg.
To make nutmeg-rum cream.
Beat whipping cream with powdered sugar until stiff.
Beat in nutmeg syrup.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour A 9-inch springform pan.
Sift flour, nutmeg, cornstarch and baking powder together.
Mix in ground almonds.
Cream butter with sugar in mixing bowl.
Beat in milk alternatively with dry mixture.
Add egg whites and beat until batter is fluffy.
Pour into prepared pan.
Bake 50-60 minutes until cake tests done. Cool on rack.
Remove sides of cake pan.
Cut cake into 8 slices.
Top individual servings with nutmeg-rum cream and top with banana slices.
And here are some suggestions guaranteed to tickle your palate with a genuine Grenadian flavour :-
2 ozs Morne Délice Nutmeg Syrup
4 ozs La Grenade Liqueur
8 ozs Club soda.
Stir, add cracked ice and serve with a twist of lemon or lime
2 ozs Morne Délice Nutmeg Syrup
6 ozs Club soda
1 Slice of lemon
Mix Nutmeg Syrup with club soda and add cracked ice. Top with grated nutmeg and serve with twist of lemon or lime
8 Chicken legs (or wings)
1/2 Teaspoon pepper sauce
1/4 Cup soy sauce
1/4 Cup grated onions
2 Cloves garlic (crushed)
12 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Cup Morne Délice Nutmeg Syrup
1/4 Teaspoon ground ginger
Season chicken with salt, pepper, crushed garlic and onions. Bake for 15 minutes at 400º F. Remove chicken from oven and baste with mixture of Nutmeg Syrup, soy sauce, and ground ginger. Lower oven to 300º F, and continue baking for one hour, basting frequently. Serve hot.
To achieve that unique nutmeg flavour with its soft finish and clean taste, top your ice cream, pancakes and fruit salad with nutmeg syrup. And nutmeg syrup adds a special touch to your sweet and sour pork and barbecue chicken.
28th May 1994