Species: Myristica fragrans
Other names: Pala
Appearance: Mace is the leathery aril that surrounds the nutmeg seed inside of the nutmeg fruit. When harvested, mace is the bright red and lightens to a golden-orange when dried.
Typically used: Freshly ground
Origin: Mace comes from the same plant as the nutmeg tree, as they are two parts of the same fruit. The nutmeg tree originates from the Spice Islands in Indonesia, also known as the Banda Islands
Flavor: Mace is not simply a “lighter nutmeg,” although that is often how it is described. Mace has its own distinct flavor, which is like a cross between nutmeg and coriander, with hints of citrus and cinnamon.
Aroma: Mace is wonderfully aromatic in a way that makes you want to take a deep breath, as you would with basil or mint.
Culinary uses: Mace is lovely and delicate where nutmeg would be too heavy. It pairs well with savory, tart, and floral dishes. Consider pairing it with meat dishes, stews, creamy soups, Indian curries, in yogurt, with root vegetables, or on fruit. Always add toward the end of cooking to avoid the spice turning from pungent to bitter.
"Mace is where the depth of spice meets the lilt of the floral. Where nutmeg deepens, mace elevates.” - Max Falkowitz
Other uses: Has been used as a digestive aid or to help increase circulation. Too much can cause gastric distress.
Fresh mace. [Photograph: ciamabue on Flickr]