mace spice

13 Interesting Facts About Mace

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Introduction

Mace is a fragrant spice derived from the aril (seed covering) of the nutmeg seed from the evergreen tree species Myristica fragrans. Along with nutmeg, mace is one of the most common spices used in cuisines around the world to add warmth and aroma to dishes.

While nutmeg and mace originate from the same fruit, they boast different flavors and are used in different ways. Mace has a more delicate, orange-yellow hue and imparts a more subtle flavor than nutmeg.

Mace has been used for centuries as both a culinary spice and for its medicinal properties. Read on to learn more interesting facts about this versatile spice.

Facts About Mace (Spice)

  1. Mace is the dried lace-like reddish covering of the nutmeg seed. The mace spice is carefully removed from the nutmeg seed and dried for culinary use.
  2. The flavor of mace is described as warm and spicy, similar to nutmeg, with hints of cinnamon and pepper. However, mace tends to be more aromatic, lighter, and more subtle than nutmeg in taste.
  3. Mace contains the essential oils myristicin, elemicin, and safrole which contribute to its flavor and fragrance. It also contains antioxidants and other health-promoting compounds.
  4. Indonesia and Grenada are the world’s largest producers of mace today, as they were historically. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the “Spice Islands” of Indonesia, including the Banda Islands, were the only sources of nutmeg and mace.
  5. Mace has been prized as a spice for flavoring food since ancient times. It was highly valued by Arabic and medieval European traders. Both nutmeg and mace were used as currency at times due to their value.
  6. The flavor of mace holds up well to prolonged cooking times better than nutmeg, making it a popular choice for stews, curries, and other slow-cooked dishes. The flavor infuses into the dish nicely.
  7. Mace pairs well with creamy or starch-based foods like mashed potatoes, pasta dishes, custards, puddings, pumpkin pie, and cheese sauces. It also complements vegetables like spinach, broccoli, beans, and cabbage.
  8. Mace can be used as a pickling spice to flavor chutneys, pickled vegetables, jams, preserves, and marinades. It brings warmth and vibrancy.
  9. In traditional medicine practices, mace is used to stimulate appetite; relieve nausea, stomach issues, and insomnia; and enhance liver health. Modern studies show some basis for these traditional uses.
  10. Mace contains small amounts of manganese, copper, fiber, calcium, magnesium, iron, and vitamins B6 and E. It packs an array of antioxidants too, including carotenes and phenolic compounds.
  11. You can find mace sold as whole “blades”, finely ground powder, or coarsely ground. The flavor and aroma is best preserved with whole blades freshly ground before use.
  12. A little mace goes a long way since it has a concentrated flavor. Use it sparingly until the desired taste is achieved. Start with 1/4 teaspoon ground mace for a 4-6 serving dish.
  13. Mace can lose its potency when exposed to light and air for prolonged periods. Store mace tightly sealed in a cool, dark place to maximize shelf life and preserve its delicate oils.

Conclusion

While mace and its sister spice nutmeg share an origin and similarities, mace boasts its own distinct flair. Its subtle orange hue and delicate flavor can enhance both sweet and savory recipes.

Mace also has a long history as an ayurvedic and traditional medicine thanks to its unique health-promoting compounds. It packs an antioxidant punch too.

Next time you’re looking to add warmth, vibrancy, and intrigue to your dish, don’t overlook the versatile mace spice. A little goes a long way to spice up flavor profiles.


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