Mace and nutmeg are two spices found in many recipes together, but what are the flavors and why the price difference?
Both nutmeg and mace are from the myristica genus of tree. Nutmeg is the seed found within the fruit of the tree and mace is the dried seed covering (aril) that is lace like in appearance. Both share a flavor and aroma of delicate warmth and sweetness, with mace having a much more pungent taste.
There are more differences when it comes to using the two spices and how they are harvested and used.
Differences Between Mace & Nutmeg
There is a cost difference between nutmeg and mace.
As mace is wrapped around the nutmeg seed it is less abundant than the actual seed itself. Meaning that mace is more rare and therefore a higher cost to purchase. This has also led to it being less common in recipes and spice cupboards alike.
Mace doesn’t hold it’s flavor as well as nutmeg and needs to be fresh, which also adds to your costs. To be honest both of these spices benefit from being freshly grated or ground and used in cooking. Buying whole when possible is the best way to ensure this.
Mace Vs Nutmeg Taste
Both mace and nutmeg share a sweet, spicy warmth that adds a real Winter warming effect to a dish. Mace, however is stronger and if you are looking to replace nutmeg with mace go for 1 teaspoon of nutmeg = 1/2 teaspoon of mace.
Mace will not retain it’s flavor for as long as the seed nutmeg will. So make sure to store both in an airtight container and expect them to last around 1 year in a dark, cool cupboard. Keep your nutmeg and mace whole and grate as and when needed to retain the flavor and aroma for longer.
Grated nutmeg in eggnog or a béchamel sauce is a great way to add interest to an otherwise bland recipe.
Recipes Using Mace Or Nutmeg
Here are some recipes that are definitely improved by the addition of either mace or nutmeg. Remember it is not just limited to sweet dishes and both of these spices will work well in savory recipes as well.
The nutmeg tree is native to Indonesia and is therefore found in abundance in traditional recipes, but nutmeg has really taken hold in French cuisine as well as American dishes.
- Roast Pheasant With Orange & Onion Marmalade. This recipe includes mace in a small quantity but just enough to pull the other flavors up by their socks. It also uses allspice which is another lovely spice to include with gamey meats like pheasant.
- Chocolate, Orange and Spice Fondue. The inclusion of ginger, cinnamon and vanilla will really raise this into a perfect dinner party fondue. For the full recipe click here.
- Nutmeg Coated French Toast. This is a really easy twist on cinnamon coated French toast, full recipe here.
- Mace Cake. By using mace in both the cake batter and as a sugar topping to the cake you get a lovely gentle infusion throughout. A very nice twist on an afternoon tea cake. Full recipe available here.
- Béchamel sauce. By using spices mixed with herbs like bay leaves you can infuse real flavor into your sauce. This recipe is a Classic from Delia Smith and one that is pretty reliable in our house!
- Port & Claret Jelly . This is a very grown up jelly with not just a lot of alcohol in, but also a lot of stronger, more pungent spices included. Classic combinations of cloves, mace and cinnamon work so well together.
What Next & Further Reading
I’m hoping that now you will feel inspired to use both of these wonderful spices. Just remember the fresher the better and get trialing some of those recipes.