A Spiced Christmas
The Christmas season is identical with a certain warmth and scent. A typical feeling that reminds us always of the festive season. However, did you realize that this scent is built up by combining few spices that are native to Indonesia? Some of the spices that are identical to Christmas would be cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. Clove and nutmeg are proudly a native to Indonesian land!
Cinnamon was originally found in Ceylon – now known as Sri Lanka – by Portuguese traders. The spice was so highly in demand that they conquered the island producing it at the time! These days, there are a lot of varieties of cinnamon growing in different tropical or subtropical countries, which simply are labelled as “Cinnamon”. They all vary slightly but mostly would carry similar characters. It is the bark of the cinnamon tree that produces the spice, which you would commonly find in forms of quill or powder.
Cinnamon tree is most suitable to be planted in the tropics or subtropics. In plantation, cinnamon trees are regularly cut to the ground every year for easy harvesting. New shoots develop in around three years until they can be harvested and the cycle continues.
Indonesian archipelago is rather famous for its title as “The Spice Islands”, and of of the reasons being should be thanked to Cloves, which are a native of the Molucca Islands. Cloves are actually dried flower buds from Syzygium aromaticum, which these days are very familiar in anyone’s kitchen. This equatorial tree needs year-round heat, humidity and rainfall for it to grow successfully. We are so lucky that we have Cloves trees at Blueboots Farm and can witness its growing process. Cloves buds are harvested before they opened into flowers then sun-dried. If the season is good, we are able to harvest Cloves twice a year.
Nutmeg is one of the two spices produced by the same tropical plant, Myristica fragrans. Also native to the Molucca Islands in Indonesia, a nutmeg tree needs almost seven years to produce its first small crop. The tree itself needs a rich, moist, volcanic soil for it to grow well. When the fruit of the tree starts to split, that is a sign that it is ripe. The fruits are then harvested to be split open fully. The lacy red part is called mace is dried on its own and the kernel is also dried until the seed (what we commonly call the nutmeg) starts to rattle loosely which is a sign that it is ready to be opened.
Nutmeg these days is a popular spice to be stored in the pantry, which is versatile to be used for lots of savoury and sweet dishes. Most of all, these three spices – Cinnamon, Cloves and Nutmeg – create a magical Christmas feeling and yet most of them originated from the tropics!
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