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19th century nutmeg grater
19th century nutmeg grater
19th century nutmeg grater
19th century nutmeg grater

This 19th century nutmeg grater was used in the kitchen for adding nutmeg to food recipes and drinks.  Made of two pieces of wood that fit together: the center is circular with arms that extend out.  The bottom piece has a well with a metal grate riveted over the hole.  A round appendage that is pegged to the top. When the two pieces are put together, the appendage fits into the hole.  As the arms are turned, the nutmeg is pressed against the bottom and grated.  The surface is a dry, red wash.  In excellent condition.  Dimensions:  11" x 3".

Some informational tidbits about nutmeg and graters below . . .

According to Antique Tin & Tole Ware (Mary Earle Gould, 1957, pg. 42), “The nutmeg grew in a hard shell that was shaped like a peach.  Around the nutmeg inside the shell was a lacy covering called mace.  The outer shell was removed and thrown away, the lacy covering, or the mace, was next removed, and then both the mace and the nutmeg were laid away to dry in spice boxes.  These were first made of wood and later of tin.  Before they could be used, the mace was powdered in a mortar with a pestle, and the nutmeg was grated.  In many graters there is a holder that was rubbed back and forth.  Or, as in some graters, the nutmeg was forced against the grater by turning a crank”. 

The Nutmeg Grater: A Kitchen Collectible, And So Much More Before 1850, (by
J. E. Klopfer, www.journalofantiquesandcollectibles.com/features/nutmeg-grater),
". . . cooking instructions routinely called for measurements as “a scrape of nutmeg”, “a quarter of a small nutmeg,” “an atom of nutmeg,” “slices of nutmeg,” “take three scrapes nutmeg;” indications that nutmeg was freshly ground at the time of use. The study of published Mid-Victorian and American Civil War cookbooks shows that approximately one out of five recipes contained nutmeg as an ingredient. The spice was used in everything from baked apples and pumpkin pie to lamb chops and mulled wine.

 

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