Nutmeg…Mace…One on One

Often I hear people confusing nutmeg and mace…Today with this article I’m going to take the initiative and clear all possible confusion for all you doubtful lovers of Mace and Nutmeg…

Mace and nutmeg…call them sisters….brothers… (I’d stick to ‘sisters’ cause they are ‘spicy’ *wink) Anyway…Okay now these two spices are twins…because they are both parts of the fruit of  Myristica frangrans; I am sure you have heard the name? If not… you may also know it as the nutmeg tree.

Now to differentiate between the two separately…I have prepared a few key points…highlighting what you seek…the real difference between nutmeg and mace…

  • Okay…Mace consists of the vein-like threads that cover the dried fruit…while nutmeg is the kernel inside the seed…rather like the kernel inside a peach stone…
  • Mace threads…or blades…are chopped or ground and the nutmeg kernel is ground or grated…
  • Both are traditional flavorings for sweets including- Custards….Cakes…desserts… and other savory dishes…especially fish…spinach…pasta and quiche…Okay I this one was actually the point of congruence rather than a difference between the two..

Now I’m sure you can understand the confusion which does the rounds regarding these two spices…These two similar spices from a single fruit… The confusion is nothing new, it’s a confusion which has been present throughout history….spice lore tells the tale of an English merchant who visited a Ceylon nutmeg plantation and…after learning that mace was worth more than nutmeg…declared…that they should pay more emphasis on the production of mace than nutmeg

Then there are some spice historians who say that mace may not have been considered a spice until long after nutmeg became popular…since it is not included in early European descriptions of spice use from 3rd and 4th centuries…However…cooking with nutmeg in India extends to ancient times…

Another fact from history is that the Arab traders introduced nutmeg to the West sometime in the 6th century…It eventually became as valuable as gold and was among the spices that prompted the European exploration of the world….

This might be quite surprising for you to know but….Nutmeg has been flavoring in beverages…and still is…like Coca Cola…which reportedly includes it in its secret recipe…Astonishing no? A spice (literally) used in a beverage like coca cola…

This…one can attribute to the flavoring qualities of nutmeg and mace…which are spicier than most people expect…Despite their use in mild dishes like custard and stewed fruit…nutmeg and mace actually include some of the same oils that flavor pepper and cloves

Another controversial thing which might attract youngsters to these spices is that nutmeg and mace also contain hallucinogens, and can be fatally toxic if used in a large quantity…you know like…eating an entire nutmeg…However…the small quantities normally used in cooking are considered safe…

Cooks and chefs all over the world…have vacillated through the years over the desirability of mace versus nutmeg…No wonder at times…people seem to have wanted what was harder to come by…and priced mace much higher than nutmeg due to the unavailability of mace….

And ladies and gentlemen…Today…nutmeg’s flavor is considered warm and well matched to food…and appetizing…Mace is described…somewhat contradictorily…as more subtle and spicier…a combination of cinnamon and pepper…Some books describe mace as the stronger flavor and some say nutmeg…The flavor is closely related to freshness…and fresh mace is stronger than nutmeg sold already ground….Still for most purposes…mace and nutmeg are interchangeable….

So in on you to decide the ultimate winner among the two after usage…

Have a look at our reference links…

  1. Mace and Nutmeg by Nancy L. Nelson
  2. Nutmeg Vs Mace by Cooking Forums
  3. Mace and Nutmeg by foodbanter.com