By now, you and I are very familiar with the common herbs and spices in our kitchen and what we can do with them. How about those less common? For this instance, Mace. You may know mace as the “mace spice” but I knew it by a different name – nutmeg “flower”. This was the name I’ve been told since young. I may have misunderstood or simply didn’t bother to find out. Well, I was just a kid then. Now, I found out that it actually comes from the nutmeg fruit itself. Let’s find out what is mace for and how can you use it for cooking? Does it have nutritional value benefiting your health? You must read on…
The Nutmeg Fruit
A nutmeg fruit produces TWO spices from ONE seed! Isn’t it amazing?
The fruit is from a tropical evergreen tree, Myristica fragrans, originally from the Maluku Islands also known as the Spice Islands in Indonesia but currently growing all over the tropics. However, Grenada in the Caribbean now grows almost a third of the world’s crop. The nutmeg tree takes 7 – 9 years to mature but have a long productivity period of up to 90 years, and can reach 66 feet in height.
The fruit is similar to apricot in shape. When it ripens, it splits open through its bottom, revealing the hard-shelled seed covered by a waxy red netting. This lacy netting, also called aril is mace, while the kernel within the shell is nutmeg.
After the aril is removed from the seed, it is pressed flat and dried. The resulting mace pieces are called blades.
Both the nutmeg and mace are similar in aroma and taste – rich, fresh and warm but nutmeg smells sweet with a hint of clove and a deeper, bittersweet flavour. The aroma of mace is stronger but gives a lively, floral character and a taste of lemony sweetness.
Nutmeg is used in both sweet and savoury dishes. It goes very well in meat stews. As for sweets, you could easily associate nutmeg with your fruit pies, puddings and eggnog among others.
While both can be used interchangeably, mace has a more pleasant flavour and gives a light saffron colour to the dishes.
Let’s save the nutmeg spice for another day. For now, you will get to know
What is Mace for
Like nutmeg, mace can be used in sweet dishes and adding it to savoury dishes will certainly elevate the flavour. Still could not imagine its flavour? Think of mace as the combination of nutmeg with coriander, and a touched of citrus with cinnamon. It is a complex flavour but subtle. Interesting? Yes, no?
A small amount of mace will uplift many recipes, adding a touch of fragrance without imposing too much.
Use mace for flavouring meat dishes – chicken, veal, lamb, pork or fish.
It is a good addition to ⇒ stews, curries, savoury sauces, clear or creamy soup and soufflé.
You must try adding some to ⇒ mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes. It creates an interesting side dish.
Be careful though, the flavour can become bitter if cooked too long. It is best to add mace toward the end of cooking.
One mace blade is enough to flavour a dish of four to six portions. Always remember to remove the mace blades before serving. This reminds me of the Bay Leaves.
In baking and desserts
Of course, mace works very well in desserts.
It pairs wonderfully with all kind of fruits ⇒ especially fragrant fruits like peaches and raspberries.
Not forgetting the ⇒ puddings and custards.
For your next baking or dessert making day, you may consider replacing nutmeg with mace. It gives you a lighter touch, not overpowering other ingredients. Find out for yourself how wonderful the flavour is.
Another way to use mace is by adding a little to your beverage – chocolate drinks and tropical punch. Yes, give it a bit of punch – spice it up!
Mace Blades or Ground
Ground mace is more commonly available and cheaper too. It keeps its flavour fairly well, better than most ground spices. Mixed spice and the garam masala, an Indian spice mix are blends made from a combination of spices which include mace.
Mace blades keep very well in an airtight container and you can pop it into a spice grinder to easily grind them as and when you need them. You may want to check out my spice grinder review and best electric spice grinder recommendations here.
Ground mace is easier to use but its quality will deteriorate faster. Depending on how frequent your usage is, you may buy ground mace for ease of use or buy mace blades to grind in batches.
One teaspoon of ground mace is equal to one tablespoon of mace blades.
Should you substitute it with nutmeg, the amount remains the same – a pinch for a pinch. However, the flavour will be affected and you may need to taste and adjust.
Other alternatives include ginger but use only a small amount due to its potency.
Allspice will do the job of mimicking the flavour of mace too.
Similarly, cinnamon with its warm sweetness does the same.
What is the Health Benefits of Mace
The nutritional value of mace is quite different from nutmeg but impressive. Compared to nutmeg, it is less in calories but a higher content of Vitamin C.
Other notable vitamins and minerals found in mace are Vitamin A and B, iron, calcium, copper and magnesium.
Also, mace has high concentrations of essential oils, dietary fibre and antioxidants.
Further therapeutic properties include anti-fungal, antidepressant, carminative and aphrodisiac.
With these potent components, mace will surely benefit your health in many ways. However, use it with care and responsibly.
Caution: High consumption of mace, as well as nutmeg, can cause sweating, palpitations, headache and body pain. In severe cases, gastrointestinal distress and potential psychoactive effects. Extreme caution needed when consumed during pregnancy and lactation.
Here are 7 Health Benefits of Mace
Healthy Digestive System
Mace helps in keeping your digestive system healthy. High in fibre, it is good for regulating bowel movements. Hence, relieve the discomfort of constipation, bloating and gas-related problems.
You may also use this spice to remedy nausea and diarrhoea.
Immune System Booster
Vitamin C is the biggest immune system boosters of all. The high level of Vitamin C in mace can boost your immune system against infections and foreign pathogen.
Promotes Blood Circulation
Iron and magnesium, both found in mace are essential for healthy blood vessels. Improved vein circulation system and reduced constriction of blood flow can help prevent hypertension and other life-threatening conditions.
Besides, it keeps your skin glowing and healthy hair too. Wouldn’t you want that?
Suffering from a loss of appetite? Spice up your diet with a bit of mace. The pleasant, delicate aroma and taste will surely make your meal more appealing and delectable.
Besides, the carminative properties of mace help reduce bloating and flatulence, thus improving your appetite.
Find out how and which common cooking herbs and spices help reduce stomach bloating here.
The antioxidant has been shown to relieve stress and it is one of the many therapeutic properties found in mace.
Adding a bit of this spice to your diet can reduce your stress and anxiety.
There are other common cooking herbs and spices that can help do the same. Click here to read more.
When you feel calm and serene, naturally you will be able to sleep well.
Having quality sleep helps you to stay focus on your job or any tasks at hand and increases your memory too.
Eugenol, another compound found in this spice helps to relieve toothaches and other forms of dental pain.
Furthermore, it also helps to freshen your breath.
Reduces Inflammation and Pain
Mace is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties. When applied externally, it soothes inflammation and eliminates pain.
Traditionally, mace has been used for hundreds of years in Chinese medicine. The Chinese used this spice to treat inflammation and pain such as aching joints, muscle pain, arthritis, bruises and sores.
My Personal Experience with Mace & Nutmeg
My childhood memory of using mace oil is mostly for bruises and sprained muscle, especially for the ankle and wrist. Unlike children of nowadays, mostly confined in their own home or space with a digital device in hand, I wandered the neighbourhood on a bicycle. Minor accidents, fallen with bruises and sprains are quite common.
Grandma would be ever ready with her nutmeg mace oil. If my memory serves me right, the remedy is actually mace infused alcohol. And it really works! Too bad and sad, I never got to know the recipe.
A favourite snack of mine is the candied and pickled nutmeg. I just can’t seem to stop eating once started.
It was only in recent years that I started to drink the nutmeg juice served at some coffee shop around Penang Island, Malaysia, my home country. On a hot sunny day, drinking it cold with ice cubes is truly a thirst-quenching refreshing drink. At night, I strongly recommend drinking it warm or hot. It is extremely warm and soothing, your bedtime made calm and easy.
A couple of months ago, I managed to catch a Food TV series – Confucius was a Foodie hosted by Canadian celebrity chef Christine Cushing. In one of the episodes, it featured her visit to a nutmeg farm in Penang. Funny I have never visited.
When did I find out about mace? It was this Food TV series that got my attention. Just before that moment, I was writing about Mixed Spice vs Allspice. Found out that I can make my own Mixed Spice and one of the spices needed was mace. At that point, I asked – What is Mace? Now, you and I have the answer.
The End of Mace – Not Really
Knowing what is mace for in cooking and baking, coupled with its health benefits, would you not want to try using this amazing spice? It may not be as common as nutmeg and pricier too but let’s make cooking more interesting – try mace! I believe it is worth a spot on your spice rack. Use it to enliven your cooking and give yourself a healthy boost.
Again, I wish to remind you not to overdose with mace or nutmeg. Too much of anything is not a good thing. Moderation is the best.
Now, go on and check out some recipes using mace. If you have any recipes using nutmeg, try substitute with mace.
I love coffee with a dash of cinnamon. How about mace? Why don’t you give it a try and let me know how you feel.
Where to buy mace?
See what is available on Amazon
Share your Experience or Leave a Comment
I have shared mine. Now it is your turn. Please share your experience with mace in the comments section below or leave a comment. Have you known mace all this while or just like me, always looking out for powerful herbs and spices? I look forward to reading yours.
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From the Corner of My Home – Spice Up Your Life with Herbs and Spices
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18 Replies to “What is Mace – A Less Common Spice Derived from Nutmeg”
I know nutmeg, but I have seriously never heard about mace until I stumbled upon your article! It is so informative and such an eye opener. Yes the colour of mace is truly pretty and bright, you can be sure I’d be using this in my cooking from now on! As an aid to digestive system, also immune system booster, and appetite enhancer, these are the reasons why I want to assign mace a place in my pantry. My kids will do great with it. Thank you for this post, I have gained lots from it.
I am glad you found this informative. Not many people know about mace and what it can do in cooking and for our health. I have known mace since young but by a different name so it certainly surprised me when I found out what is actually was.
Go ahead, try this spice and tell me how you and your family like it.
I have been using nutmeg for many years, I like it in meat croquet and in a drink we use to prepare with eggs, milk and Ron. I haven’t see before any pic from the tree and didn’t know about mace. I like your post and your site too. I bookmarked it to visit other posts. Always I have heard that nutmeg increase the blood tension, is it true? Thank you for sharing this post 🙂
Thanks for sharing your experience here. I have not tried adding nutmeg in meat croquette but can image the wonderful flavour and aroma now.
Nutmeg contains iron and magnesium. Both are essential for healthy blood vessels. In this case, it helps to improve the vein circulation system and reduce constriction of blood flow. Thus, helps to prevent hypertension.
Here is a study on the health benefits of nutmeg you may be interested to read.
Glad you are here!
I had never heard of mace before. I am really interested in trying it. the only time I really used nutmeg was in pumpkin pie. It being pumpkin pie season again I think it would be worth a try to taste this. I was unaware of all of the health benefits. normally when we are talking about seasoning the first thing that comes to mind is taste. The fact that something can taste great but also have health benefits as a seasoning sounds great to me. I was wondering if you had tried it in pumpkin pie yourself? I will stick to the 1 to 1 ratio of what the recipe called for in nutmeg.
Never heard of mace? Me too! And many of us here 😉
Yes, the pumpkin pie season is here again. Such good timing to be trying out this unknown but amazing spice of mace. Please tell me how you like it.
Honestly, I have not tried pumpkin pie. And many other pies too due to my “laziness” of making the pie dough. I am not the one who likes ready made dough from the supermarkets.
Hope to hear from you again on your pumpkin pie with mace.
I like nutmeg, they have come in medical oil and snacks. I think the mace looks and functions just like nutmeg and can be an alternative. If I buy via Amazon, would they come fresh or processed and preserved with chemicals? My mom would want to use these for cooking.
I love nutmeg as a snack, eating non stop if not controlled.
If you are buying from Amazon, take a closer look at Nutmeg with Mace by 2Tre. The nutmegs with the mace still attached are organic from Jamaica.
Buying whole nutmeg and mace is better than ground form as we do not know what goes into it to keep them fresh. We don’t like those unpronounceable ingredients, do we?
Let me know if there are any other things I can help you with.
It was very interesting to find out that mace actually manages to promote blood circulation, particularly because I suffer from bad arrhythmia.
This condition leads me to take a good dose of Vitamin B and magnesium every day – I’m wondering what the natural magnesium content is of mace, when compared to a supplement magnesium?
Hi Chris. Nice to see you here again. I do not know your magnesium dosage needs per day but for 100g of mace spice, the magnesium is at 163g / 41%. Hope this info is of help.
Hey Sharon, I feel so inspired now to go and find some mace to try it out in my recipes! I love spices but I have gotten tired of the same old selection and combinations. Or grocery stores don’t stock items that aren’t as popular. I’m from South Africa so I’ll have to see if I can source it locally before importing it from Amazon. I cook for my family everyday and they can be somewhat fussy – do you reckon the flavor is subtle enough to sneak into my dishes or is it very noticeable?
Hello Nadia. The flavour of mace is more subtle than nutmeg therefore it may not be noticeable. If they do notice, I think they will love it! Go ahead and give it a try. Happy cooking!
I have heard of this spice, I have not used it first hand, I am sure I have had it in a dish or two, and probably thought it was nutmeg.
I have used nutmeg for years, not knowing anything about it at all, this article gives great illustration of what nutmeg and mace are.
Being a cook this makes me want to research more of the spices that I am not educated on as far as what they derive from. I use a lot of spices that I know the name, flavor and what to expect from it in a dish, but I do not know what their origins are.
It makes for more interesting cooking conversations if you can tell people certain facts about the food you are preparing for them. And if you know spice history, you can be more impressive!
What is your favortie dish to use mace in?
There are so many types of herbs and spices available and it is a bit impossible to know them all. We may know their names but not the origin and how to use them in our cooking. Just need to continue exploring!
I mostly use mace for baking or dessert. Adding it to my favourite fruit cake!
Excellent educational topic, which I was not aware of before. But it turned out that my wife adds a barely noticeable amount of this seasoning in the form of powder to various dishes: Pleisir Casserole, Christmas Pumpernickel, Apple Puff Pastry Roll, “Shipka” Meatballs.
Let me give you some useful tips.You can store for a long time in a dry cool place in an opaque pot with a lapped lid. Carefully follow the dosage. Do not keep near sugar, flour, coffee, tea – all these products absorb the aroma of spices.
Very interesting, grateful. Mark
Thanks for the tip, Mark. Delighted to exchange knowledge here.
Good afternoon Sharon,
Your post brought back fond memories of my Caribbean cruise in 2011.
I visited the island of Grenada, where I saw the nutmeg tree. It looks somehow similar to the walnut. I visited a plantation where the processing was shown. There were big cloth bag filled with the nutmeg waiting for exportation worldwide. I do not remember if Maca was explained during the visit, so your article is very interesting.
Grandmothers know best. Indeed, a shame you do not have that recipe as it was so helpful for bruises. I can imagine how delicious candied and pickled nutmeg must be. I will see if I can find it here in Spain.
Thank you for the information. It is good to hear that once again, nature is our biggest ally.
It is wonderful to hear about your experience with nutmeg, Taetske. I am sure you must have enjoyed the trip.
Hope you are able to buy nutmeg in Spain.