Mace is the bright red, lacy covering, or aril, of the nutmeg seed. Once harvested from the seeds, the coverings are known as blades and are laid flat to dry in the sun to produce the spice, which is now a yellowish-brown. Mace has a warm, sharp, aromatic flavor and tastes much like nutmeg, since they are derived from the same fruit, but is slightly sweeter and more intense than nutmeg. Mace pairs well with sweet dishes, but also savory, like seafood and meat, especially lamb. Whole blades can be used steeped in liquids or added directly into dishes and fished out before serving (but be judicious; one blade can flavor an entire meal). Ground nutmeg is fantastic in baked goods and may be preferable over traditional nutmeg in creamy sauces, imparting nutmeg’s punch without its pigment to discolor the sauce.
whole dried blades and ground
Mace has been known to be effective in:
- treating digestive and stomach problems, like nausea, vomiting, and intestinal gas
- stimulating appetite
- relieving fatigue
(when applied externally as an oil) easing rheumatic pain and clearing up eczema
Use nutmeg if mace cannot be found, since the two come from the same fruit and possess similar flavors and aromas.