What Are Nutmeg and Mace?

The nutmeg and mace spices both come from the seeds of evergreen trees in the Myristica family.

Nutmeg is the kernel of the seed of the tree and mace is the lacy red skin (the aril) of the kernel.

The aril is separated from the kernel and is then dried and sold as mace.

The hard shell of the kernel is discarded and the inside is the nutmeg.

Most nutmeg and mace comes from the tree Myristica fragrans that is grown in Indonesia and the Caribbean (Grenada is known as the Nutmeg Island and its flag has the nutmeg colours of yellow, red and red with a nutmeg on the left side).

Not surprisingly, nutmeg and mace have similar flavours with nutmeg having a slightly sweeter flavour.

Nutmeg is usually sold whole and is grated when needed (one nutmeg will usually yield 10-15ml of ground powder). Nutmegs, whole and ground, should be stored in airtight containers, away from sunlight, to keep them fresh.

Be aware that nutmeg is poisonous and must be used in moderation. A pinch or two is safe.

Mace is used in very small quantities, much like saffron.

In India, nutmeg is used mostly in sweet dishes whereas it is used mostly in savoury dishes in the Middle East.

Both nutmeg and mace can be used to make garam masala. Some of the Curry Focus garam masala recipes use nutmeg and mace.

Nutmeg is also used to make mulled wines and mulled ciders.

Nutmeg has some medicinal applications and is to treat diarrhoea and nausea whilst it has positive uses in improving the appetite.

Nutmeg contains a narcotic called myristicin. Misuse of myristicin can cause hallucinations, epilepsy and large doses can cause death. These side effects will not be caused by normal culinary usage.

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