Your online resource

for all things culinary


HOME Search this Site All Recipes Special Sections Articles &  Resources Kitchen Equipment Food & Health Growing Food Directories

Missing an Ingredient ? UKFoodOnline.co.uk

 

Nutmeg and Mace

 

Information about Nutmeg and Mace plus Nutmeg and Mace Recipes

 

 

Ingredient of the Month 

Scroll down for nutmeg and mace recipes

Click here for more Ingredients of the Month

September   2001

 

 

The nutmeg tree (Myristica Fragrans) is unusual in that it produces a fruit, the pericarp of which encloses two distinct spices: nutmeg from the seed itself and mace from the aril covering the seed. By the way, the "mace" used in  crowd control and aerosols to deter would-be attackers is a chemical and has nothing to do with this plant.  

Origins and History of Nutmeg and Mace

Their first specific place of origin was in the Banda Islands, Indonesia. Dutch explorers, in particular Van den Broeke and Jan Pieterscoon Coen took away the first batch of nutmegs from there in 1608. Their spread and popularity in Europe was meteoric.

So prized were these spices, that by 1621, Dutch military forces invaded and conquered the Banda Islands in order to gain physical control and have a monopoly  over the production and trade of nutmeg and mace and consequently be able keep the prices extremely high in Europe. However the higher price paid was by the indigenous people of the islands, most of whom (some estimates say 90%)  were killed or enslaved during the invasion.

Both spices were still extremely popular in England and throughout Europe in the  18th and 19th centuries. The English word nutmeg comes from the latin nux, meaning nut, and muscat, meaning musky.  However, Nutmeg was also  known to the ancient world. It has been found in Egyptian tombs and around the 13th century the Arabs began to trade it in the Middle East and Mediterranean.

Cultivation and Processing Nutmeg and Mace

The trees are currently cultivated principally in the Moluccas and the West Indies and elsewhere with varying success.

These splendid evergreen “fruit” trees are big, reaching  a height of about 65 feet (20 metres). They start bearing fruit 8 years after sowing, and continue to bear for 60 years or longer.  When the fruit fully matures,  it splits in two, exposing a crimson- coloured aril, the mace, surrounding a single brown seed, the nutmeg.  

In the processing of mace, the crimson-coloured aril is removed from the nutmeg, flattened out and dried for 10 to 14 days. During this time its colour changes to pale yellow, orange, or tan. Whole dry mace consist of flat pieces which are  smooth, horny, and brittle which about 4cm/1.5 inches long (blades).

The remaining fruit are also dried gradually in the sun and turned twice daily over a period of six to eight weeks. Once dried, the shell is then broken and the nutmegs removed. These are greyish-brown ovals with furrowed surfaces and measure about 3cm/1-1/4  inches long with a diameter of 2.5cm/ 1 inch.

 Follow us 

Share 

 

Mace and Nutmeg in Cooking

Mace

The flavour of mace is similar to nutmeg, however it’s  lighter and a little more delicate. Blades of mace are used for soups and sauces, and are often found in wine mulling mixtures. Powdered mace is a good addition in very small quantities to various sweet and savoury dishes such as  pound cake, Swedish meatballs, stuffings, sweet potato pie, and it may surprise you to know that most American hot-dogs contain ground mace.

Store Ground or  Blade mace in an air tight container as it quickly loses its flavour. If using blade mace, there is no need to grate it: just crush between your fingers and sprinkle it in.

Nutmeg

Nutmeg has a more robust flavour  and is also used in a variety of sweet and savoury recipes such as confections, puddings, meats, sausages, sauces, vegetables, and such beverages as eggnog. In England, it is an intrinsic addition to dairy desserts such as baked egg custard.  

Whilst Ground Nutmeg is widely available and very convenient, it does lose its aromatic properties more quickly than “fresh” nutmeg. It is therefore preferable to obtain whole nutmegs and grate small amounts, using the smallest holes on the grater, as and when required, storing the remainder in an air tight container.

General

You can substitute each of  them for each other in any recipe so don’t worry too much if a recipe calls for Mace but you only have Nutmeg. Bear in mind however, that you will probably need a little less nutmeg than mace.  

CLICK HERE FOR LOTS OF RECIPES USING NUTMEG AND MACE

 

 Sign up for Free E-mailings
 
 

I still haven't found what I'm looking for

 

Try our search facility. Type in your main ingredient (s) or whatever you happen to have available in your store cupboard or fridge and allow us to whisk you up a recipe in seconds!

 

 

 

For full advanced search tips visit our main search page via the red "search this site" button at the top of the page

 

About Us  |  Contact Us  |   Advertise |    Private Privacy  |   Media Resources  |  Links  |  Sitemap  |  Printing Recipes  |  

 

Abbreviations on this site  

 

 

 

This Web Site was designed and created by Recipes4us.co.uk. Copyright © 2000 to date [Recipes4us] All rights reserved.

 Some Photos © www.fotolia.co.uk