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Nutmeg Seed Makes A Spicy Komboloi

While perusing various listings for komboloi (in other words, I was taking part in one of my favourite pass-times…windows shopping), I ran across nutmeg seed komboloi. Nutmeg seed komboloi are really cool and have some great qualities I’d like to share with you.

What’s so cool about nutmeg seeds?

The nutmeg seeds we use come from the fragrant nutmeg; a dark green evergreen tree. The trees take a long time to mature and can usually take anywhere from six to eight years to start bearing fruit and up to around 20 years for them to be in full fruit production (roughly the same time it takes my kids to get ready for school). It normally grows in Indonesia, Malaysia, India and some places in the Caribbean.

Nutmeg Tree - 40 drawings of plants at Bencoolen, Sumatra (c.1824) - BL NHD 48-23

The nutmeg fruit consists of three layers. The outer fruit is sometimes turned into candies or spreads, but is usually thrown away during the harvesting of the seeds. The covering of the nutmeg seed, or aril, is a reddish almost mesh-like substance that is used in making mace spice. The inner seed is what we know as nutmeg. It is ground for spice, the essential oil is extracted, it’s turned into a butter that’s sometimes used as an industrial lubricant and in this case, turned into beads for a variety of uses.

Nutmeg has a fascinating past too. It started off as a treasured spice brought from the Orient by Arab traders with stories of how they when through great dangers to bring the spice to the wealthy and noble. During the coronation of Henry VI as Holy Roman Emperor in April 1191, nutmeg was used to cleanse and purify the procession route. Nutmeg was also a trigger for the Spice Wars. In a nutshell (sorry…had to), nutmeg was thought to ward off plague so everyone wanted it. The Dutch East India Company wanted to control the main Indonesian island producing it at the time. Problem was, it belonged to England. They fought, a lot of islanders died and the Dutch East India Company got the island in exchange for allowing England to have one of the other small islands. Seriously, why couldn’t they share? There was plenty of nutmeg to go around!

What makes nutmeg so special?

Nutmeg has a lot of great qualities besides warding off the plague, smelling amazing and flavouring a rainbow of deliciousness *hat tip to pumpkin spice* It was used by Greeks and Romans as a kind of brain tonic to wake up the mind and relieve stress and fatigue and to help improve concentration. The essential oil in nutmeg has anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antioxidant and analgesic properties. It’s also a bit of a nutritional powerhouse with traces of calcium and potassium and has starches, protein and a variety of fatty substances. Though you won’t get the same benefits as you would if you ate nutmeg, playing with the beads and enjoying the scent and feel could really help take your cares away for a little while and help you relax and maybe wake up your mind a bit.

….I’d like a double nutmeg to go right about now. It’s been a long day.

How are they made and does this change how to take care of them?

After being harvested, the fruit of the nutmeg tree is dried slowly in the sun for about 6 to 8 weeks. Once dried, it’s broken open, the aril separated for mace and the seeds are collected for processing, or in this case, turned into beads. The seeds are then polished to get a nice smooth surface. Some are tinted (usually using natural ingredients) a variety of colours with reds and browns being the most common. Then they are drilled to prepare them to be strung.

How does this affect how to care for them? Since little, if any, sealants or varnishes are used, they can be susceptible to damage from water and so running them under the tap or bathing them in nice soapy water isn’t the best idea. A gentle spot cleaning is best if they have to be cleaned and gentle picking doesn’t remove the stain. They should be kept in plastic when you’re not using them. If they start to lose their scent, sealing them in plastic and not playing with them (the torture!) for a few days should freshen them up.

If you find them as interesting as I do and would like to have a look at some beautiful nutmeg seed komboloi, please click the link below.

Nutmeg Seed Komboloi | eBay

Final thoughts….

I really like nutmeg seed kombolois. With the scent and feel of natural beads, the colours and the history of nutmeg, nutmeg seed beads are very special indeed.

What do you think? Do nutmeg seed komboloi sound interesting? What about nutmeg in general? What other beads would you find interesting?

Leave a comment below and let me know ….or just say “hi”!

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4 Replies to “Nutmeg Seed Makes A Spicy Komboloi”

  1. papa

    Wow! Who knew one of our favourite Christmas spices was so complex, Smelling the beads must bring cozy Christmas memories to mind.

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