Years ago, I discovered the superiority of fresh nutmeg to dried nutmeg, while working on perfecting my gingerbread recipe. It seems like they’d be interchangeable, but it’s truly a world of difference to use it fresh.
The issue is that the process of making dried nutmeg greatly diminishes many of the highly volatile oils it contains. While those oils only make up about 10% of a whole nutmeg’s mass, they make up the bulk of the flavor. Its two main oils are camphor and pinene, which produce its medicinal and pine scents, respectively. By grating the whole nutmeg yourself (with a microplane), you ensure that the nutmeg you’re using has all of its natural flavors intact and in the right proportions to one another.
Freshly grated, nutmeg is fairly fluffy and slightly moist, making it difficult to measure. My ridiculously precise metric pumpkin waffle recipe calls for 0.6g, which works out to 1 tsp. loosely scooped into a measuring spoon. If you measure nutmeg by pressing it into the spoon, then that same quantity works out to a little less than 1/2 tsp. With nutmeg, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. It’s a delicious spice, but extremely potent, so if you’re unsure about how much to use, go for less. You can always scale-up the quantity next time around.