Have you ever wanted to try mace but didn’t know what it tastes like? You’re not alone.
This article will provide the answer and cover everything else you need to know about mace, from its flavor profile to how to use it.
Get ready for a taste exploration.
What is Mace?
Mace is a popular spice obtained from the Myristica fragrans tree, which is native to the Spice Islands of Indonesia, as well as parts of India and Sri Lanka.
It is derived from the dried aril or ‘net’ that wraps around the seed kernel of its fruit.
Although it has a distinct flavor, mace has been described to have notes of nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper and some citrus.
The name mace actually refers to two different spices: blade mace or whole mace.
Blade mace is the outer orange-red aril or ‘net’ which envelopes the seed kernel once dried and ground into a powder.
On the other hand, whole mace refers to seed kernel wrapped in its net, both of which are then dried and ground in powder form.
Ground blade mace is brownish-red in color with a strong aroma while whole ground mace (sometimes called “flower”) usually has a product lighter yellow tint due to its higher concentration of essential oils.
Mace can also be sold in other forms such as “blades” which are pieces of dried aril, “ground” (powdered), or “whole”.
Whole Mace has often been used as a nasal inhaler remedy to reduce headaches and colds symptoms by preachers and physicians in the 19th century due to its warm and camphoraceous aroma whilst blade Mace shows more pungent notes on account of its high concentration (~20%vol/wt)of volatile oil myristicin that provides just enough capsaicin burn characteristic feeling on tongue and throat when consumed even if present at very low content (~0.
Mace’s flavor pairs deliciously with savory dishes such as sweet potatoes, cream sauces with cheese and vegetables making for an amazing combination experience on your taste buds.
1 – History and Origins
Mace is a spice derived from the aril of the nutmeg tree.
It is part of the Myristicaceae family and is native to Indonesia, Malaysia, and India.
It has been used in cuisines around the world dating back to ancient times.
Mace comes from the Latin word mascus which translates to “blade”.
The blade of mace referred initially to nutmegs because of their shape, but eventually became associated with their outer covering or aril.
The spice was historically used as an aphrodisiac, digestive aid, and remedy for pain and fatigue.
In Ayurvedic medicine it has been known as Mahikshiri which can be roughly translated as “healer” or “radiance” due to its potential therapeutic benefits.
Mace has a gingery flavor with hints of pepper and cinnamon.
It can have a slightly bitter taste when first tasted on its own, but when added to certain ingredients or meals in small doses it can brighten up any dish or drink – like a cup of Earl Grey tea.
The flavor dissipates quickly so it is important that it be added near the end of cooking time in order to enjoy its full potential.
Mace is commonly found in Indian cuisine but can also add touches of sophistication to French sauces and baked goods such as baklava and strudel.
2 – Harvesting and Processing
Mace is harvested twice each year in tropical countries, with the peak harvests occurring in April and August.
Once the mace is harvested, it needs to be processed before it can be used in cooking or other applications.
Processing generally consists of two steps: separating the mace from its protective husk, followed by drying out any remaining moisture.
Some of this drying out process can occur naturally, but most commercial producers use some type of mechanical dehumidifier for rapid results.
This process helps remove any remaining moisture and helps to set the characteristic color of mace.
Once processed, mace is usually ground before it’s ready for use in recipes.
However, some shops will still sell whole pieces of mace if you prefer to add whole pieces to your meal or steep them for a spiced tea or infusion.
What Does Mace Taste Like?
Mace is a popular spice derived from the aril of the nutmeg tree, and is used in different cultures for both its flavor and medicinal qualities.
It has a sweet, yet slightly spicy flavor reminiscent of pepper, with subtle hints of citrus, making it ideal for adding a delicate pungency to pies, soups and stews.
Mace can be used in various forms—ground powder or freshly peeled by hand.
The distinctive yellow-red coating has an intensity that’s usually not found in other spices.
The aroma can also vary according to how it’s prepared, such as when ground or freshly cut.
On its own, mace has an intensely grassy scent combined with a gentle warmth and floral notes.
The flavor itself is similar to that of nutmeg but milder and more delicate due to the presence of terpenes—volatile compounds found within the spice which determine its unique character.
The taste offers sweet notes with just a hint of spiciness that tingles on the tongue while adding depth to recipes like casseroles and baked goods.
Additionally, mace can be used fresh alongside other herbs or spices like cinnamon or cloves for seasoning almost anything from salads to smoothies or even hot toddies.
With its complex flavor profile, there’s no limit on what you can create by adding mace as an ingredient in your cooking endeavors.
How to Use Mace in Cooking?
Mace is a spice derived from the aril of large nutmeg fruit that is both aromatic and flavorful.
It has a warm, nutty flavor with a hint of sweetness and pairs well with other sweet spices such as cinnamon and cardamom.
Typically, mace can be used in all kinds of dishes, from light salads to leisurely desserts.
Mace is commonly used to flavor stews, soups, eggs and baked goods.
To enhance the flavor of mace, it’s best to grind it right before using to maintain freshness.
As many spices do, mace pairs particularly well with savory dishes such as sauces and stocks by lending richness and complexity to these dishes.
Adding a pinch during cooking will also help enhance the natural flavors of your ingredients without overpowering them.
You can also use mace in marinades and salad dressings or sprinkle over steaks, fish or poultry to add an earthy warmth that’s balanced perfectly by its sweetness.
For dessert recipes requiring a nice spicy kick such as gingerbread cookies or apple pie fillings, adding just a tiny bit of ground mace will do the trick.
In addition to its taste qualities when cooked with foods, mace also adds an attractive golden-brown hue and adds visual appeal when sprinkled on finished dishes like puddings or cookies for some extra flair – great for special occasions.
1 – Tips for Using Mace in Cooking
Mace is derived from the reddish-orange outer coating of nutmeg, a spice commonly found in Indian, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern dishes.
Used in whole, mace blades and ground preparations to impart an array of flavors, Mace’s unique taste also makes it functional as an alternative to nutmeg.
When used in cooking or baking, mace has a complex flavor that may include orange-like citrus notes with a warm finish reminiscent of nutmeg and pepper.
Experimenting is key when adding mace to dishes — start small, tasting as you go.
Here are some tips on how to experiment with mace when cooking:
- Try adding a pinch of mace when sautéing vegetables for a hint of sweet citrus flavor.
- Add some finely chopped mace blades to poultry stuffing for a special twist on the traditional recipe.
- Splash a scant pinch of ground mace into soups or stews for additional warmth and complexity.
- Make your own mulled cider or rosé with ground mace for added sweetness and spice balance.
- Use finely chopped or ground mace to sprinkle over cakes and cupcakes just before baking for an exotic touch that is sure to impress guests.
2 – Recipe Ideas
Mace has a warm, spicy flavor that can range from delicate to strong depending on the intensity of your dish.
It is most commonly used in dishes such as rice, soups, vegetables, and even desserts.
There are many ways to incorporate mace and you can mix it with other spices for a flavorful combination.
When cooking with mace, it’s best to start by adding small amounts and taste as you go.
Start by measuring out small amounts of ground mace (about 1/8 teaspoon for every 2 servings) into your cooking pot and stirring or simmering until it’s thoroughly mixed in.
You can also sprinkle small amounts on top of multiple dishes like oatmeal or mashed potatoes, giving them an extra kick of flavor without being too overwhelming.
When adding it to recipes, you should pay attention to the type of recipe you’re making so that the flavors are well balanced.
If a recipe is more neutral in nature (like oatmeal), the added flavor of mace may be just fine on its own.
For more intense recipes like curries or casseroles, however, mace may be better when paired with other spices like ginger or cardamom for an extra punch of flavor.
If you’re looking for some interesting recipes that feature mace, here are a few ideas:
- Spiced Yogurt Toast: Top toast with plain yogurt and a sprinkle of ground mace along with some fresh fruit like strawberries or blueberries for a quick breakfast loaded with flavor.
- Curried Butternut Squash Soup: Sauté diced onion and garlic before adding cubed butternut squash and cooked quinoa. Simmer in broth and season with curry powder and a pinch or two of ground mace for added warmth and depth.
- Baked Apples: Halve apples before filling them with nut butter mixed with ground cinnamon, nutmeg ,and/or cloves along with some coconut sugar as desired; then lightly sprinkle each apple half with ground mace before baking.
Health Benefits of Mace
Mace is a bright red, lacy shell that encases the interior seed of the nutmeg fruit.
It has a sweet, earthy, and slightly spicy flavor that works great in baking and savory dishes.
Mace has been used for centuries, not only to enhance flavor but also for its many health benefits.
Mace is rich in vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus and copper essential for cell production and detoxification of our bodies.
It’s a good source of dietary fiber which helps to promote digestion.
Mace also has antioxidant properties that can help prevent free radical damage in our body cells and boost immunity against diseases such as cancer.
It also contains different essential oils like eugenol and myristicin which possess antifungal, antibacterial and antiseptic properties that can help protect the body from infections or illnesses.
Mace also contains small amounts of B-complex vitamins niacin (vitamin B-6), thiamine (vitamin B-1) pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5) as well as vitamin A , vitamin C , folate , manganese , selenium , zinc and potassium.
All these nutrients play an important role in maintaining our overall health by keeping us energized throughout the day.
1 – Nutritional Information
Mace, the brightly colored outer covering of the nutmeg seed, can be used to add a spicy and aromatic sweetness to savory dishes.
It has a strong flavor with hints of pepper, ginger and clove.
Mace has been found in recipes as far back as the 16th century, and it is now widely used in both commercial and home kitchens around the world.
It is important to know that mace contains no fat or cholesterol and each teaspoon of ground mace provides 4 calories.
The same amount also delivers 9% dietary fiber, 12% iron and 21% manganese from your daily needs.
Additionally, mace contains several other minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium which you should include in your diet.
Mace is also an excellent source of numerous vitamins such as vitamin C, pantothenic acid (B5), riboflavin (B2) thiamine (B1) niacin (B3).
It also delivers vitamins A, E & K with each teaspoon you ingest.
As a result of its high nutritional value mace has antioxidative properties that can help fight off diseases such as cancer by reducing oxidative stress in body cells.
2 – Potential Health Benefits
Mace has several potential health benefits to offer.
Not only does it have a pleasant flavor, but it may also help to provide relief from digestive problems and aid in digestion, as well as offering anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties.
Mace’s anti-inflammatory properties make it a good choice for those who may suffer from conditions such as arthritis, gout, and joint pain.
Mace can also help to bring relief from digestive issues such as indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Mace has antimicrobial properties which can help to fight off bacterial and fungal infections.
It’s often used in aromatherapy or skincare treatments because of its antifungal capabilities.
Additionally, mace can be added to food to add flavor and aroma like orange zest or nutmeg.
The essential oil of mace is known to be effective in treating respiratory issues such as asthma and bronchitis.
Mace also contains many nutrients like iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus which are all beneficial for the body when consumed regularly.
Where to Buy Mace and How to Store It?
The culinary spice known as mace is part of the nutmeg family and is made from the nutmeg fruit’s red outer coating, as well as its seed.
It hot, sweet, and spicy flavor is often used to enhance savory dishes, curries, cakes, cookies, stews and other dishes needing an extra special twist.
Mace can be found in most large supermarkets or online retailers in whole or ground forms.
Whole mace has a flavor that lasts longer than pre-ground powder.
When purchasing dried mace flakes or blades (the whole form of mace), look for brightened orange-red pieces that have a nutty aroma and are slightly flexible (not brittle).
Ground mace will also have a stronger odor than other types of spices.
Mace should be stored in an airtight container in a cool dry place away from direct light and heat sources such as ovens and stoves.
For longer keeping quality (up to 1 year) store mace in the refrigerator or freezer but out of direct sunlight.
1 – Where to Find Mace
When looking for mace, it can often be found in its whole form or as a fine powder sold as ground mace.
Whole mace is usually found in the spice section of traditional markets and ethnic stores, while powdered mace is more widely available.
Grocery stores typically carry both varieties in their spice aisle, but you also may be able to find it at independent health food stores or through specialty suppliers online.
Whether you buy whole or ground mace, make sure that it has been stored safely and kept away from moisture and air to ensure maximum flavor and preserve the essential oils that give it its distinctive flavor.
2 – Storage Tips
When stored in an airtight container and in a cool, dark place, mace can stay fresh for over one year.
That said, once mace has been ground into a powder, it does begin to lose flavor more quickly.
To prevent this from happening and to keep your mace tasting its best for as long as possible, consider storing it in the freezer.
Sticking to a dry spoon when you remove the spices from the container is always a good idea to further reduce any risk of contamination.
In summary, mace has a pleasant sweet taste with warm, pungent and spicy notes.
It is often used as a finishing touch to many dishes, especially those that feature fish, vegetables or soups.
Its aroma is similar to that of nutmeg with floral and woody notes.
Its versatility makes it ideal for highlighting the flavor profile of many dishes while contributing its own unique flavor profile at the same time.
While not always found in global cuisine, mace can help transform any dish into a gourmet delight and should be added to your kitchen arsenal of herbs and spices.
Carrie is a food writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience. She has worked for some of the biggest names in the food industry, including Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, and Martha Stewart Living.
As the Editor in Chief of IntroChicago.com, Carrie oversees all of the content on the site. She also manages the team of contributing writers and editors, who help to create delicious recipes, helpful tips, and informative articles that you’ll find on the site.
A native of the Chicago area, Carrie is passionate about all things food. She loves trying new restaurants and experimenting with new recipes in her kitchen. She’s also a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, so she knows a thing or two about food!