Mace spice is the dried lacy reddish covering, or aril, which envelops the nutmeg kernel. It comes from the nutmeg tree and is harvested hand in hand with the nutmeg kernel.
It originates from the Indonesian Maluku (Spice) Islands. It is also widely cultivated in Malaysia, in the Caribbean, especially in Grenada, and in southern India.
Once harvested from the tree, the outer pulp or husk is removed and discarded. Just underneath is where the crimson-colored aril, which envelopes the kernel is found. This is what is known as mace.
The mace should then be gently peeled off from the kernel surface and flattened into strips. They are then dried, and sold either as whole mace blades or finely ground into powder.
Mace blades or ground powder packed inside air-sealed containers can be bought readily from stores. It is preferable to purchase whole mace or its blades instead of powder as the powdered form loses its flavor much faster due to the evaporation of essential oils.
On the other hand, the powdered form can easily be adulterated with impurities or powder of inferior quality product. You should, therefore, strive to acquire your spice from reputable sources to ensure you have the best product.
Whole mace spice and blades at home should be stored in an airtight container and placed in a cool, dark and dry place. Stored properly they can stay fresh for several months. Ground mace, however, should be stored in well-sealed packs and used as quickly as possible after purchasing.
How to use Mace in Your Food Preparation
Mace and nutmeg can be used for similar results in cooking with the exception being that mace has a more delicate flavor and it gives off a light saffron color to the dishes when used in cooking.
If using the powder form, it can be added to the dishes towards the end of the cooking process to retain as much flavor as possible.
In case you are using the mace blades, make sure you remove them from the dish before serving. You may also extract the flavor in separate water then add it to the dish.
It is used to impart flavor in baked goods such as pastries and cakes. it is also used in donuts and other sweet and savory dishes. One popular example is javitri, as used in India.
Speaking of India, this spice is an important ingredient in garam masala powder, and Moroccan, rass-el-hanout.
The powder is also added to sauces, meat stews, bean stews, vegetable stews, and soups depending on the recipe requirements.
Nutritional Benefits of this Spice
Mace contains antioxidant compounds, essential oils, minerals, and vitamins. It contains just 24 calories per 100 grams. It is a great source of dietary fiber, fats, and oils.
It also contains significant amounts of Carbohydrates and Proteins though because of the little quantity used in cooking, it may not be an effective source of these.
The spice is a good source of the B-complex vitamins such as Folates, Niacin, Pyridoxine, Riboflavin, and Thiamin. It is also a great source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C.
As for minerals, it is very rich in Copper and Iron. It is an excellent source of Calcium, Magnesium, and Manganese.
Finally, it is also a rich source of Phosphorus, Zinc, and Potassium.