Q.: I read many recipes that call for fresh nutmeg and ginger. I don’t know where to find them. I looked in the spice aisle at Acme and all I could find was powder. Also tried to find it in the fresh veggies. Any suggestions? Is powder OK to substitute?
— A.R., Mogadore
A.: Fresh ginger is located in the produce section of the grocery store. Look for a knobby root with papery brown skin, often near the fresh garlic. Most stores stock it regularly, but if you can’t find it, ask the store’s produce manager to order it for you.
Whole nutmeg typically is found in the spice aisle. Most jars will contain about a dozen whole nutmegs, which need to be grated on a sharp, fine rasp grater. Again, if your store does not carry it, ask your store’s grocery manager to order it. You can also find it at specialty spice purveyors.
Grated nutmeg can be used interchangeably with freshly grated; just make sure it is as fresh as possible. Grated nutmeg, while more convenient, does tend to lose its flavor faster, so you won’t get the punch from it that you will from freshly grated nutmeg.
With powdered ginger, you will likely need less in recipes than you do fresh ginger. David Joachim, author of The Food Substitutions Bible, recommends using 1 teaspoon of ground ginger for every 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger.
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