Last Updated on October 11, 2023
If you’re asking yourself, “What is mace spice,” you can find the answer here!
Learn all about this unique and flavorful spice in this blog post, and see why mace spice is becoming so popular with foodies!
Mace is the waxy layer surrounding the whole nutmeg seed. A shiny crimson webbing known as an “aril” is revealed after splitting the fruit of the Myristica fragrans tree. In its center, it contains a single hard seed or nutmeg.
This netting of aril is hand-peeled away from the kernel before it’s dried. Once it dries up, it shrinks into an orange-red lacy covering called ‘blade mace’.
From here we know – Mace blades are dried whole pieces of mace that also come in powdered form. (Mace vs Nutmeg)
The Origins of mace spice
The ancient Chinese saw mace as an exotic and valuable seasoning. Sanskrit texts dating back to 3000 BCE mention it as well, as do medieval Latin poets.
Throughout its long history, mace has been traded across continents and used to provide flavor to everything from cereal grains to beverages.
Mace is native to the Moluccas Islands, or Spice Islands, of Indonesia. Today, there are also mace plantations in the West Indies, China, and Sri Lanka. Do you know a mace’s color is an indicator of its origin?
Mace varieties by color and region
Natural mace comes in a variety of colors, ranging from light yellow to reddish brown.
According to its origin and processing, mace can have a variety of colors.
In Indonesia and India, mace usually has a bright yellow hue, while in Sri Lanka and parts of Africa, it tends to be more reddish-brown.
Generally speaking, long-dried mace, on average, has a darker color. In addition, mace produced in different regions can vary significantly in terms of flavor intensity.
For example, Indonesian mace has a stronger aroma, while Indian mace is milder. Regardless of color or region, however, all varieties of mace are highly aromatic and richly flavored.
Whole Mace vs. Ground Mace
Mace processing involves removing nutmeg’s crimson-colored aril and flattening, drying, and turning it into yellow, orange, or tan sun-bleached powder.
Once dried, mace is available in two forms – as whole blades or as ground powder.
The major difference between whole and ground mace is that the ground variety has a stronger flavor than the whole spice. As a result, you need less ground mace to achieve the same taste as mace blades.
Moreover, ground mace will lose its flavor more quickly because it contains so much surface area that can quickly release its oils when exposed to heat and air.
What Does It Taste Like?
Mace is botanically related to nutmeg, but it has a flavor that is more citrus-like and slightly more bitter, with notes of pepper, cinnamon, and lemon citrus. When you find an intact blade, it’s best to use it as a whole.
Some people compare the heat intensity of mace to that of black pepper or chili powder. Others may find that it gives off a warm ginger-like flavor with an almost wine-like aftertaste.
As an integral ingredient to classic dishes like sorbets and ice creams, it adds a complex and interesting flavor profile.
You can also add it to pickled vegetables, curries, and stuffing for various dishes, and holiday potato bake.
Cooking with Mace
In addition to adding a distinct flavor to mashed potatoes, mace is an essential ingredient in baked goods.
Besides its culinary purpose, people also use mace medicinally to treat certain ailments like headaches and nausea.
When learning how to use mace when cooking it is important to keep taste levels balanced so one does not overpower other ingredients.
A general rule of thumb is to use no more than 1/4 teaspoon per cup or 1 teaspoon per batch. This is for recipes that call for multiple cups of dry mix like cake or cookie batter.
It’s always best to add small amounts at first until you get the desired taste you’re looking for!
Recipes With Mace
The use of mace in cooking dates back thousands of years in Asian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Latin American recipes. Asian cuisine often incorporates it into curries or aromatic blends.
Europeans use mace to flavor cakes, biscuits, puddings, and custards. In the United States, people like to make their pumpkin pies with it around Thanksgiving and Christmas.
If you don’t have mace spice in your pantry, don’t worry. There are some substitutions that you can use. Depending on the dish you’re making, several substitutes might work well.
The closest substitutes for mace are as follows:
👑 Nutmeg: An excellent substitute for mace as both spices originate from the same source. Mace has a similar flavor profile. But nutmeg works as a worthy stand-in and will give your recipe an aromatic hint of warmth.
👑 Allspice: Similarly to nutmeg, the flavor intensity of allspice is often stronger than that of nutmeg or mace, so use it with caution or combine it with other mild seasonings.
👑 Ginger with Cinnamon or Nutmeg: If you want the warm taste of mace without using those spices, ginger combined with either cinnamon or nutmeg can also do the job! Ginger adds a sweet and eye-catching flavor while adding depth to any dish.
👑 Garam Masala: You can substitute garam masala for mace. Spices like garam masala add warmth, sweetness, floral notes, and a touch of heat.
Where to Buy Mace Spice
If you’re wondering where to buy mace for your kitchen pantry or cooking endeavors, it is widely available online or in the supermarket spice section.
You can also find mace in stores that specialize in spices and herbs. Ground mace has a shelf life of two to three years while entire blades can last up to four years if stored properly in a cool and dry place.
Depending on how often you use it, you may choose to purchase pre-ground mace or whole blades that you can grind yourself with a grinder or mortar and pestle for optimal freshness.
How To Store Mace Spice
It’s best to store your mace spice in airtight containers and sealed tightly.
When stored this way, whole mace and ground mace will keep for about two years without losing much of their flavor or aroma.
However, it’s always better to buy mace in small batches to ensure freshness.
In addition to airtight storage containers, it is also crucial to pick a cool and dark place to store. Heat can quickly break down the essential oils found in the spice as well as cause it to lose color faster than normal.
It is also advisable to store ground mace away from strong-smelling foods as its flavor can absorb odors quite easily.
Well, mace is the cousin spice of nutmeg, there are some differences between nutmeg and mace, even though they come from the same tree.
After the ripe fruit of the tree is picked and split open, the seed inside is called nutmeg. Mace is the lacy membrane that surrounds the seed once it has been removed and dried.
The closest substitutes for mace are Nutmeg, Allspice, and a mix of Ginger with Cinnamon or Nutmeg.
Mace is botanically related to nutmeg, but it has a flavor that is more citrus-like and slightly more bitter, with notes of pepper, cinnamon, and lemon citrus.
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Substitutes for Mace Spice (For 2023)
- Ginger with Cinnamon or Nutmeg
- Garam Masala
- It’s always best to add small amounts at first until you get the desired taste you’re looking for!
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