By: Leanne Ely
Last week, I posted an article about the most intriguing little spice in the cupboard—nutmeg. The nutmeg tree not only provides us with the lovely warming spice nutmeg, but the nutmeg fruit has a beautiful lacy covering used to make the equally as warm and pungent spice known as mace.
Mace has a spicy flavor and a scent like a cross between cinnamon and pepper. If you find nutmeg a bit too potent, mace will give you a slightly milder flavor.
The mace of the nutmeg fruit is harvested by hand when the nutmeg is harvested. You can find it sold in a powdered form or as whole “blades.”
When mace is harvested, traditionally, it is left in the sun to dry for up to two weeks. Modern processors have drying machines that make the process a bit easier. This drying period allows the mace to cure, and it also fades the color to a rusty orange hue.
The flavors of mace and nutmeg are quite similar—to the point that they can be used interchangeably. Mace’s spicy-sweet taste, however, makes it perfect for savory dishes as much as sweet, unlike nutmeg which is most often used in baking.
Mace can enhance the taste of meats, stews, curries and other savory dishes. Grated mace is excellent in marinades and sausage mixtures. Did you know that mace was the original spice used to flavor hot dogs?
Like most spices in the cupboard, mace is very good for you, especially for your digestive system. It aids in digestion and has properties that can help heal infections in the digestive tract. Mace is also known to reduce gas, nausea and general stomach upset.
Mace has aphrodisiac, anti-fungal and anti-depressant properties and it contains many antioxidants like cryptoxanthins and beta carotine. It is rich in vitamins A, B and C and contains calcium, copper, potassium, iron, manganese, zinc and magnesium.
Add ground mace to your dishes towards the end of cooking as it can become bitter if cooked for too long. When using the whole mace blade, you should remove it prior to serving.