Mace is a form of spice that comes from the nutmeg tree. It’s a spice you’ve likely heard about, but may not have tried – or may not have in your spice racks.
Mace is distinct because of its colour and its shape. Mace is the lacy coating (technically called the aril) that you get on nutmeg seeds. It is red in colour and can be removed by hand before being dried. This process turns it into a yellow-y spice that is a little similar in flavour to something like cinnamon or pepper – think of it as the more pungent portion of nutmeg.
That said, it does also find its way into one or two other types of dish. For instance, you might find it in cheese dishes, stock pots, soufflés, and even pasta. Mace is common in many types of cooking and finds its way into Asian cooking and Caribbean cookbooks.
History of Mace
Mace has many mentions throughout history, with the spice being used in the first century AD. Here, Roman author Pliny describes a tree that bore nuts with two flavours. During the 6th century, nutmegs were sold by Arab merchants. By the 14th century, it was said that a kilo of nutmeg would cost three sheep or one cow!
Uses for Mace
When using mace, you must first select the correct type. When choosing these spices, consider the colour. Red orange blades are from Indonesia, while the more yellowish blades typically originate from Banda – the largest Molucca spice islands.
Mace can still be one of the slightly more sought-after spices. That it is typically a little more expensive than other more widely used spices. It can be found in many mixed spices however.
Mace must be stored correctly, depending on the type you purchase. The ground form of mace for instance has a particularly long shelf life but should be kept in a vacuum insulated food jar or a thermos food jar. It should also be kept in a dark space.
When comparing ground mace to the other form – mace blades – you should keep in mind that roughly one teaspoon of the former is equal to 1 tablespoon of the latter. Nutmeg and mace can be used interchangeably, though the difference will be noticeable. Another substitute you can use in a pinch (no pun intended) is ground allspice.
The best way to get to grips with any herb or spice in cooking is to try using it in a dish. To that end, we recommend that you grab your bakeware set and apron and give it a try! The more different spices and herbs you familiarize yourself with, the greater your repertoire of delicious dishes will be.
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