What Is Mace?
Mace is made from the lacy, red outer coating that covers the shell around the nutmeg kernel. Once this coating is removed, it's dried, and can be found and purchased as whole, golden-orange "blades", though it's mostly commonly sold ground. In flavor, mace is very similar to nutmeg, though more subtle and delicate. If you find nutmeg too potent or astringent, try using mace instead for a gentler flavor.
Mace Plant and Cultivation
The tree requires a deep, well-drained loamy sandy soil. Shade is required for the first two to three years. The optimal growing temperature is between 20-30°C and the annual rainfall should be between 1500-2500mm. Half the trees are male and do not produce fruit. Unfortunately, the sex of the plants cannot be identified until they are six to eight years old. Propagation should be from mother trees selected for their regular bearing, high yields, large nuts and heavy mace.
The usual method of propagation is by seed. Only uniformly dark brown seeds taken preferably from fruits that have split open should be used. Yield depends on the size and the age of the tree. Trees will start to bear fruit from around five to seven years old. The yield will increase considerably until the tree is about twenty-five and then more slowly until it reaches its maximum capacity at around thirty-five to forty years of age. Yields can be above ten thousand nuts per tree. There are two types of mace, West Indian and East Indian. The fruit turn yellow when ripe and the pulpy outer husk (pericarp) splits into two halves exposing a purplish-brown shinny seed surrounded by a red aril. Usually the fruits are allowed to split and fall to the ground before harvesting. They should be collected as soon as possible or the underside of the fruit will become discoloured and the risk of mouldiness will be increased.
In its natural state, mace is a bright crimson lace up to 35 mm (1-1/2 in) long, encasing the brown nutmeg in irregular, fleshy lobes. As it is dried, it develops its charcteristic aroma but loses its bright red colour. Mace from the West Indies is a yellowish brown colour and with fewer holes than mace from East Indian nutmegs which are more orange when dried. The mace from either locale can become brittle and horny, though the best quality mace will retain some pliability and release a little oil when squeezed. It is flattened and sometimes roughly broken into ‘blades’. It is also sold ground and sometimes still enclosing the nutmeg.
Uses of Mace
Mace powder has a distinct spicy-sweet taste and is used to flavor food, domestically and commercially. It is a commonly used ingredient in desserts and baked products like pies, milk custards, puddings, fruit dishes, biscuits, muffins, cakes and breads. The essential oils and nutrients present in mace powder are responsible for its medicinal value. Traditionally, it is known to be anti-fungal, anti-depressant, aphrodisiac, digestive and carminative agent. It is a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, zinc and magnesium. It also is rich in B vitamins, Vitamin C, vitamin A and many flavonoid antioxidants like beta carotene and cryptoxanthins.
10 Health Benefits of Mace
1 - Digestive Health - Mace has always been utilized to deal with digestive problems like nausea, diarrhea, stomach spasms and gas.
2 - Encourages Appetite - Mace spice can help you eat well, therefore keeping you healthy and powerful.
3 - Toothache Relief - Mace has something called eugenol in it. Eugenol can be used in dental practices for the pain relief of minor tooth conditions.
4 - Massage And Joint Relief - Mace as an oil is sometimes used as a massage oil. It is believed to relieve some pains in muscles and perhaps even rheumatic discomfort in joints. At the very least, its aromatic properties will give your next back rub an interesting twist.
5 - Boosts Blood Circulation - Another health benefit of mace spice is its ability to boost blood circulation. This will keep your skin and hair healthy, and also protect you from dangerous diseases and infections. Increased blood circulation also prevents diabetes and other life threatening conditions.
6 - Stress Buster - This could be surprising to most of you, but mace spice also acts as a stress buster! It effectively eliminates tension and anxiety, and helps you feel calm and peaceful. Mace spice relieves mental exhaustion as well. Not just that, this spice can help you pay more attention to work and also increases your memory.
7 - Protects Kidneys - Another health benefit of mace spice is its ability to protect your kidneys. It stops kidney stones from developing in your body. And if you have kidney stones, it dissolves them effectively. It is an excellent natural remedy for treating kidney infections and other conditions associated with kidneys.
8 - Cold And Cough - Mace spice can also treat cold and cough! It protects you from flu and viral diseases and keeps your body safe and protected from diseases. It is also used to prepare cough syrups and cold rubs. Mace Spice is also a good remedy for asthma patients.
9 - Anti-Inflammatory Properties - Mace spice is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It treats joint pains and other inflammatory conditions. Not only that, it is considered effective for treating diseases such as arthritis and lumbago as well.
10 - Help fight brain disorders - Mace contains essential oils like myristicin and macelignan that have been proven to reduce the degradation of neural pathways and cognitive function that commonly affects individuals with either dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Producing Countries of Mace
Indonesia and Grenada are the world's largest producers of high quality Nutmeg and Mace. Indonesia has close to 75% of the world market share with Granada having nearly 20% of the market share. The remaining 5% production is done by other countries including India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea and other Caribbean islands such as St. Vincent.The nutmeg tree is native to a region known as the Spice Islands near tropical Indonesia and parts of Southeast Asia. Nutmeg trees are also found in Kerala, the southernmost state of India. The Dutch introduced Mace to Europeans, who at one time held an alarming spice monopoly in most of Southeast Asia.
Consuming Countries of Mace
The principal import markets of mace are the European Community, the United States, Japan and India. Singapore and Netherlands are one of the largest exporting countries of the spice.
Recipe for Beverages with Mace
St. Lucian Chocolate Tea
Ingredients: A: 4 ounces unsweetened cocoa power B: 1/2 tablespoon lime zest C: 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon D: 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg E: Pinch of mace F: Pinch of cayenne powder G: 2 cups milk (add more if you prefer a thinner consistency) H: 1 whole bay leaf I: 1 whole star anise J: 1 whole vanilla bean or 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract K: 3/4 cup sugarPreparation Method
A: In a small mixing bowl combine the chocolate, zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, and cayenne. B: In a small saucepan warm the milk. Stir to avoid scalding. C: Add the bay leaf, star anise, vanilla bean, and sugar. Bring to a simmer and whisk in the chocolate mixture. Whisk well as it cooks to prevent lumping. Simmer the mixture for eight to ten minutes until slightly thickened and rich.
Recipe for Cooking with Mace
Potted Shrimp with Mace Butter
Ingredients: A: 3 shallots, finely diced B: 2 garlic cloves, minced C: 1 tsp ground mace D: 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper E: 1/2 tsp paprika F: 1 tbsp of rapeseed oil G: 250g of clarified butter H: 250g of brown shrimp, cooked and peeled I: flaky sea salt J: 4 slices of sourdough bread, toastedPreparation Method
A: Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Sauté the shallots and garlic for 1 minute, then add the spices and cook for a further 3 minutes. B: Add the butter and season well with salt. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the brown shrimp – they should be just warm. C: Divide the shrimp between 4 ramekins and serve with toasted sourdough bread.
Recipe for Dessert with Mace
Pear Gingerbread Tart in Mace & Salted Caramel
Ingredients: A: 1 pear B: 3 tablespoons of ready-made salted caramel sauce C: 1/2 Pack of ready-made Gingerbread dough D: 2-3 petals of mace E: butter for tin greasingPreparation Method
A: Preheat your oven to 180c and grease a tart tin. B: Place the salted caramel and mace in a small heat-proof bowl and set it in a pan of hot water to simmer gently until the caramel is melted and is fully liquid. Infuse the mace for 20 mins. C: Roll out the gingerbread dough and place in the tart tin with edges overhanging. Push the dough carefully into the corners of the tin, then cut the edges off with a sharp knife and prick the base all over with a fork. D: Bake the gingerbread for 5-10 mins until golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. E: Wash, dry and thinly slice one pear. Layer the tart base with the pear and drizzle the caramel sauce all over. F: Place back in the oven and bake for another 10 mins. Leave to cool before serving.