Mace is a spice that is used in many dishes.
It can be found in some forms of gum and also as an ingredient in cooking mace.
When mace is used in cooking, it’s often grated over dishes or added to sauces just before serving time for maximum flavor impact.
You can also buy ground mace if you want to use it without having to grate it yourself.
In this article, we will cover what mace is, what cooking with it tastes like, and what makes it different from other spices.
What is Mace Spice?
Mace is a spice that comes from the dried, seed-bearing fruit of Myristica fragrans – a plant in Asia.
The seeds are ground to produce Mace powder with an earthy, nutty, and slightly spicy flavor with hints of citrus fruit.
Mace is used as a spice in cooking, and its odor has been said to have an aphrodisiac effect.
Mace is most commonly found in European cuisines, where the Portuguese introduced it at the end of the 15th century.
Mace can be combined with other spices like nutmeg or cinnamon for various dishes such as meat stews, savory baked goods like pies and tarts, or boiled eggs.
It also goes well on bagels and cream cheese.
Varieties of Mace
There are several different varieties of mace.
The color can often help decide what country the spice comes from.
Orange-red blades most likely come from Indonesia, while oranges and yellows typically stem from Grenada.
Whole Mace vs Ground Mace
When it comes to mace, the options are plenty.
On the one hand, you can buy whole blades and grind them as needed for true flavor- but this option isn’t practical if you want something that will last a little longer than your current supply of ground spices.
Mace is an essential spice in any professional chef’s arsenal, but it can be hard to find pre-ground.
With that said, having both freshly ground and prepackaged on hand might make all the difference when cooking without a recipe or for more complex recipes with many moving parts.
Ground mace has its advantages as well.
However: it’s easier to find pre-ground than whole fresh mace, and whole blades can be pricey.
Ground spices are also a great way to experiment with new flavors without the expense of buying large amounts of more unusual ingredients- if you find that you don’t like it, toss it out and try something else.
What Does Mace Taste Like? Does Mace Taste Good?
Mace is a spice made from the dried flower buds of Myristica fragrans, a tree native to the Banda Islands and the Moluccas in Indonesia.
The flavor profile ranges from nutty to spicy with citrus overtones.
Mace has an earthy aroma reminiscent of green leaves or freshly cut grass; it should not smell like ammonia.
The taste can be described as intense, warm, sweet-spicy, delicate, and herbal.
It’s used in many cuisines worldwide: Indian pickles are often spiced with mace, for example.
And you’ll find it on top of meatballs in Swedish cuisine.
In English cooking, this aromatic spice was one of five ingredients (together with salt, cloves, pepper, and nutmeg) in the original recipe formulated by Sir Francis Drake for punch.
In medieval times it was popular as a medicine.
Its antifungal properties mean that it can help soothe skin conditions like eczema or dermatitis (think of Burts Bees).
And because mace is also an anti-inflammatory agent, there’s some evidence to suggest this spice could relieve symptoms associated with arthritis too.
How to Cook Mace?
Mace has an intense flavor and aroma similar to cinnamon but even spicier.
It should be used sparingly in certain dishes as too much can overwhelm other flavors or make them taste burnt.
A little goes a long way with this spice.
Ground mace is the perfect spice for baking pies, cakes, and bread.
Ground with cinnamon, allspice, or nutmeg becomes an important ingredient in many holiday recipes like gingerbread cookies or pumpkin pie.
Sprinkle ground mace on top of porridge to make a healthy breakfast more festive.
In addition to its use in cooking, mace is also used as a spice for confections and desserts.
You can even add it to your hot cocoa or coffee for that extra holiday flavor.
To toast, heat in a dry pan just until crispy and fragrant to get their fullest flavor.
It is common for other spices like cardamom and cloves to be dried at the same time too.
How to Substitute Mace?
There are many ways to substitute for mace, but some work better than others.
The most common substitution is nutmeg, which has a flavor similar to the taste of mace and cinnamon sticks.
For vegetables like potatoes or carrots, you can use ground cloves.
However, this will not be as potent in flavor if using it in dishes that call for larger amounts.
We recommend nutmeg if the recipe calls for using smaller amounts of spices.
Some cooks will also substitute with allspice or ginger, but this is not as common and would most likely result in a dish that tastes noticeably different from what was desired.
The best ratio for substituting for mace is to use a one-quarter teaspoon of nutmeg instead of a whole teaspoon.
In conclusion, mace has been used as a spice and flavoring for centuries in savory dishes and desserts.
It is often confused with cinnamon or nutmeg because of the similar flavors, but there are some key differences to these spices that make them stand out on their own.
Maces can be found whole or ground at most grocery stores worldwide today- look for an unlabeled package near where you purchase your other dried herbs.