Friday, June 20, 2014

Grenada Island Tour - Nutmeg

June 16th, 2014
Right nutmeg ready for harvest, left still in progress

Grenada truly is the spice island.  Nutmeg is the king of the island spices.  Grenada is the second largest producer of nutmeg in the world.
Red is the Mace.  Brown is the nut.
A rare hurricane ravaged Grenada in 2004.  Remember, Grenada is technically out of the hurricane belt.  Hurricane Ivan did a huge amount of damage on Grenada which included destroying the majority of the nutmeg crop and trees.  Hurricane Jennie arrived on the heels of Ivan and all but completed the job on the remaining nutmeg.
Sorting nutmegs brought in by local farmers
Grenada has an island Co-Op for the nutmeg industry.  There are 16 nutmeg stations all over the island that act as processing centers for the nutmeg.
Red is mace, yellow is dried mace, shelled nutmeg nuts on the right
The island farmers bring their nutmeg crop into any of these stations where their nuts are sorted, weighed and then they are paid.
Drying racks
The nutmegs are put on racks to dry.
Showing us the raking/turning process

During drying the nuts must be turned (raked) daily.  I forget how many weeks they dry.
Nutmegs drying
After Ivan and Jennie, it has taken a long time for the trees to recover.  Currently only 6 (I think) of the 16 processing centers are open.  

Racks and racks of drying nutmeg

Bags of nutmegs

Production is still less than 1/2 of what it used to be before Ivan.

However each year yields are up over the previous year.  As Cutty drove us around the island he would point out "broken nutmeg trees" and "not broken nutmeg trees" as they say on the island.
Sorting area

Ric pretending to sort

Sorting station
After the nutmegs are dried, they are cracked and sorted.  Women do the sorting.  Not all nuts are cracked.  The bulk of exported nutmegs is cracked and only the nut is shipped.  Most nutmegs sold in Grenada are whole - un-cracked.
Grading area
The nutmeg is put into water for grading.  This is also a women's job.  Those that sink have more oil and are Grade A.  Those that float have less oil and therefore are Grade B.  They are quick dried and put into BIG 150 lbs for shipping.
Retired nutmeg worker but still gives tours
This was a very interesting stop.  Additionally we all came away with our pockets full of wonderful smelling Nutmeg.  NO, we didn't steal.  Our tour guide gave us each huge handfuls and whispered us to put "them in our pockets" with a wink.  He handed me a cracked nut as well and I spent the rest of the day smelling it.  SO good.  I have been thinking of cracking some more and putting them in the pockets of our foulies as they are smelling.... foulie, VERY foulie!  Maybe that would help.

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