Unrelated-how to store nutmeg; cooking hominy grits
Hi all! I have 2 completely unrelated questions!
1) I have too much whole nutmeg. What's the best way to store them?
2) I have a bag of hominy grits. I'd like to make southern style grits. Any suggestions? I've cooked polenta a few times. Similar method?
Thanks for your help!
I keep my nutmegs in a tightly-closed glass jar, as small a one as they'll fit. I don't know if it's because of that, but my nutmegs seem to be all but immortal - I can't remember when I bought these, but every time I grate some it's always nice and pungent. Just don't let them get wet.
Grits - I'm going to assume you have the long-cooking stoneground kind. If they're from a small mill, it's a good idea to combine the grits and water, stir it all around, then let it sit until any chaff floats to the surface. It's nothing harmful, just annoying. Aside from that, yeah, a lot like polenta (in fact the Red Mule grits I've been cooking basically ARE polenta). Grits is one of the four-to-one grains, like steelcut oats, though I've seen recs for everything from six-to-one to three-to-one. I'm so used to quick-cooking supermarket grits that I'm still finding my way with these, but last time I cooked some I stirred them into the boiling water the night before, added butter-like substance, S&P and a dash of the red stuff, then took it off the heat and covered it overnight. The next day they just needed warming up, and they were perfect.
I agree with Will. Whole nutmeg seems to keep forever if you keep it in a tightly sealed jar. I keep mine in a small apothecary jar with a ground glass lid large enough to store a tiny grater inside. It's always fabulous when I grate it fresh.
Hard to tell what kind of grits you have. You're best off setting it to soak the night before because it will shorten the cooking time of any type of stone-ground grits. The coarse grind grits that I have take 90 minutes without pre-soaking but only 50 minutes if I soak them. The more finely ground ones will cook in 15 minutes if I soak them as opposed to 30 minutes if I don't.
With either type, use about 4 parts water to one part grits, cook them in the same water you soaked them in, stirring them for the first 5 minutes until they release the "first starch." This keeps them from clumping later. Then you can put the lid on the pan, lower the heat and stir every five or ten minutes, adding water if necessary. When they get nice and thick, they're done. You can cook them without the lid, but you have to be careful about them cooking dry before they're done and may have to add more water.
Don't cook with milk or cream. Add butter, gravy, salt and pepper when you serve them.
Technically, grits and polenta are made from different types of corn but many vendors don't make this distinction. It's not that important to most people unless you're a grits or polenta purist.
Sorry that your grits didn't come with directions. That would have made your life easier. I hope you know what they're supposed to look and taste like when they're ready.
My Red Mule grits are made from yellow corn, unlike all the others I've had, and have a very "corny" flavor. I like it, but I'm not sure I'll get any more, even though they were very cheap, and the woman just asked me to send her a check for the grits + shipping when the package got there!
These also came with directions, if you could call them that: they call for SIX parts water to 1 part dry grits, and claim they'll cook in ten minutes! Remind me not to have grits at their house...
I don't have much to say about the grits, but I agree with the other posters here. Store your nutmeg in something that will keep the air and damp away from them. I do this also, BUT I like to keep a tiny bowl of dry rice right by my stove, and after I finish grating off one of the nutmegs, I'll put the stub into the dry rice grains (to help keep it dry) to await its next use. That way, I have the one nutmeg handy (I have a tiny Microplane stuck into the dry rice grains as well) for grating, but the rest safely stored away.