Mace is as versatile a magical ingredient as nutmeg. Get to know him better!

A spice that many of us have at home, but few actually cook with it. What are we talking about?

About the mace flower.

Did you know that despite the name, it is not a flower at all?

What does it have in common and how is it different from its more famous cousin, nutmeg?

What sweet and savory dishes can you easily add it to?

Discover with us the secret of one of the most complex and alluring spices.

What is mace flower?

In order to understand what a mace flower actually is, we first need to know some information about the tree from which it comes. Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) is an evergreen tree with oblong, ovate leaves and small, bell-shaped, pale yellow flowers that emit a distinct fragrance when in bloom. The tree is sometimes also called the true pansy. The fruits are pale yellow and can be said to resemble apricots.

When the fruit is ripe, the outer fleshy covering, which is candied or pickled as a snack in Malaysia, bursts open to reveal the seed. The seed is covered with a red pith, divided into strips, which is the mace flower. The seed is then dried for up to two months until the inner nut rattles inside the shell. The shell is then removed to reveal the nutmeg.

Split nutmeg fruits.

What does a mace flower look like?

The nutmeg flower is the “lacy” red colored outer layer surrounding the nutmeg seed. This outer layer, also called the aril, can be removed, dried and used as a separate spice. The deep red color fades to an orange-yellow or lighter brown color when dried. Mace is sold ground in powder form, but you can also find it in dried whole pieces called mace leaves.

The difference between whole and ground mace.

What does mace taste like?

Flavor-wise, nutmeg is often described as a less intense, milder and sweeter version of nutmeg. But what does that actually mean?

Imagine a cross between nutmeg and coriander, colored with citrus and cinnamon. Add to that the same nostril-expanding properties of nutmeg, mint, and basil. Then add the complexity of raw sugar. This is a mace flower.

Like nutmeg, nutmeg is commonly used in baking both sweet and savory dishes, as well as adding creative complexity to stews and other stews. Last but not least, it is added to warming spice blends such as garam masala, ground curry and Moroccan spice blend ras el hanout.

What is the difference between mace and nutmeg?

Both spices come from the same plant – nutmeg. A nutmeg is a seed found inside the ripe fruit of a tree after it has been plucked and split open. The outer covering that surrounds the seed becomes the mace flower when removed and dried. While the nutmeg flower is dried for only a few hours, the seeds to obtain the nutmeg are dried for several weeks.

A comparison of mace and nutmeg.

Nutritional values, vitamins and minerals

Both types of spices differ slightly in their nutritional composition and vitamin and mineral content. The table shows a comparison of one teaspoon or 1.7 grams of nutmeg and nutmeg

Mace   Nutmeg
Energy 8.08 kcal 11.4 kcal
Water 0.139 g 0.137 g
Carbohydrates 0.859 g 1.08 g
Proteins 0.114 g 0.128 g
Fats 0.551 g 0.799 g
Fiber 0.343 g 0.458 g

The mace flower stands out above all for its content of vitamin C, iron and copper. In addition, we can find a whole range of other minerals and vitamins in it, especially group B.

Mace Nutmeg
Vitamin B1 0.005 mg 0.008 mg
Vitamin B2 0.008 mg 0.001 mg
Vitamin B3 0.023 mg 0.029 mg
Vitamin B6 0.003 mg 0.004 mg
Vitamin C 0.357 mg 0.066 mg
Potassium 7.87 mg 7.7 mg
Phosphorus 1.87 mg 4.69 mg
Magnesium 2.77 mg 4.03 mg
Copper 0.042 mg 0.023 mg
Calcium 4.28 mg 4.05 mg
Zinc 0.039 mg 0.047 mg
Iron 0.236 mg 0.067 mg

What is mace flower used for?

Mace is a part of many European and Asian cuisines. Recipes that use mace generally call for ground mace. If you have whole mace, try roasting it in a hot pan for a few minutes to bring out its flavor and aroma, then grind it in a mortar or spice grinder.

  • As a “warming” spice, nutmeg has a number of uses in typically autumn and winter dishes and drinks. Try it, for example, in recipes for cauliflower soup . But you can also add it to broccoli soups.

  • Do you like fish and seafood? In that case, you will also appreciate this spice very much. Use it, for example, when preparing squid and octopus .

  • This spice also adds an excellent taste to stuffings. Use it in stuffed chicken recipes . Similarly, you can use the stuffing for other poultry.

  • It is also very often added to various pumpkin dishes. Try it, for example, in pumpkin pie recipes .
Cauliflower soup with mace.

What to replace mace with?

We don’t always have mace at hand when we need it. Due to the similarity with nutmeg, it is of course best to replace it with it, you just have to use a smaller amount, because nutmeg is much more intense.

If you don’t have either, it is generally possible to replace the slightly burning and spicy taste of nutmeg with anise, cumin, cloves or cinnamon. Of course, it depends on the nature of the dish you are preparing.

Storage of mace

Like most other spices, mace is best stored in an airtight container in a dry, dark place.

Medicinal effects of mace flower

Similar to nutmeg, nutmeg has a number of positive effects on our health.

  • Digestive Support – Mace has long been used for digestive issues such as nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps and flatulence. In addition, it also positively affects the appetite.

  • Cancer Prevention – Studies show that mace essential oil can help prevent cancer simply by inhibiting the development of blood vessels that feed cancerous tumors. The compound myristicin prevents the development of colon cancer cells.

  • Relieves anxiety and depression – this spice has mild anti-anxiety and sedative properties, so it can help relieve stress. The researchers concluded that these effects are caused by the activation of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin.

  • It helps with colds – the substances that mace contains help to dissolve phlegm.

  • Dental Health – This spice is truly a natural treatment for tooth and gum pain and is also used in a number of toothpastes.

  • Relief for muscles and joints – mace oil is often used for massages. It reduces muscle pain and possibly rheumatic joint pain.

  • Helps the formation of red blood cells – due to the high content of iron and copper, mace helps the formation of new blood cells. Iron deficiency can result in anemia, fatigue and muscle weakness.

  • Insomnia – high magnesium content reduces nervous tension and also increases the release of serotonin, which induces a feeling of relaxation or even calmness.

  • Protects the kidneys – this spice prevents the formation of kidney stones in the body. And if you have kidney stones, it successfully “dissolves” them. It is also an exceptional natural remedy for kidney infections along with other kidney related problems.

  • Improves brain health – Oils such as myristicin and macelignan, which mace contains, reduce the degradation of neural pathways and cognitive functions that generally affect people with possible dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Skin problems – due to the fact that mace has a positive effect on blood circulation, it supports blood circulation to the skin and thus the self-cleansing function of our skin.

Origin and history

There is evidence that both the nutmeg flower and nutmeg were discovered as early as the 1st century AD The Roman author Pliny speaks of a tree bearing nuts of two tastes. Nutmeg originally comes from the Indonesian islands of Banda and Ambon. From where, in the first centuries after Christ, thanks to Arab and Indian traders, this spice spread throughout Asia and large parts of Europe.

At the time of overseas discoveries, the Indonesian islands became a colony of the Netherlands. The Dutch carefully guarded the islands where the nutmeg grew and soon gained a monopoly on the nutmeg and nutmeg market. Since they were the only suppliers, they became very rich in spices. The trades were run by the famous East India Company.

Milan & Ondra

We are both fans of good food and enjoy cooking. On this website, we want to inspire you with traditional, but also less common recipes. We will be happy if you try our recipes and let us know how you liked them. Bon appetite! :)