Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

mace one of the two spices produced by the nutmeg tree, Myristica fragrans. This bears a fruit containing a single, nutlike seed. nutmeg is the kernel of the seed, while mace is the dried aril or ‘cage’ which surrounds the seed. Like nutmeg, mace is used for both savoury and sweet dishes. Both are ingredients of the English ‘pudding spice’ (often called ‘mixed spice’).

Botanical particulars of the two spices and their history are described under nutmeg. Mace is prepared by detaching it from the nut, flattening it, and drying it. Simply dried, it retains most of its natural red colour, and Indonesian mace is usually exported in this form. That from Grenada is first stored in darkness for some months to ‘cure’ it, takes on a paler, orange-yellow colour, and commands the higher price. Mace from either source normally reaches the consumer in powdered form, but can be had in whole ‘blades’.