FR: Fleur de Muscade, Macis GER: Muskatblute (Gewurz)
IT: Macis SP: Macia, Macis BOT: Myristica fragrans FAM: Myristicaceae
Mace is the dried aril of the nutmeg. When the fruit first burst open, the mace is seen as a bright scarlet cage surrounding the hard black shell of the seed or ‘nutmeg’. It is removed, pressed flat, dried, and then becomes the typical ‘blades of mace’ which look rather like dried yellow-brown seaweed.
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The flavour of mace is similar to nutmeg but more refined, and mace is much more expensive.
Price is also some indication of quality, but poor mace is usually brittle and has little aroma. Mace may also be obtained ground, which is useful for putting into cakes and sweet dishes, but unless it is kept very tightly corked and frequently bought fresh, like all ground spices, it is apt to lose its aroma. As it is expensive, it is also liable to be adulterated. An essence can be made of mace by macerating it in strong spirit such as vodka.
Mace forms a common part of the spicing in cakes, and many soups and stews also call for a ‘blade of mace’. The latter is particularly useful in dishes such as clear soups, sauces and jellies in which grated nutmeg might spoil the appearance. Some curry recipes call for mace, but this is unusual in India since mace would be considered too expensive.
There are some kinds of mace on the market derived from oilier species of nutmeg. These carry such names as wild mace, Bombay mace and Papua mace. For cooking, they are inferior.