Among all the different spices available in the world, mace (also known by the scientific name Myristica fragrans houtt) is actually a part of another popular spice: nutmeg. Mace is harvested by using the same fruit that contains the spice nutmeg. When cutting into the fruit to remove the nutmeg spice, you will notice that the seed of the plant (which is the actual nutmeg spice) is covered in a red colored, slightly waxy looking substance. This substance is the spice mace. This raw form of mace is removed from the nutmeg seeds, and set aside to allow it to dry. As it begins to dry the spice loses the red coloring, and becomes more orange in coloring.
High quality mace will retain the orange coloring after it has completely dried. There are some decent varieties that will have a slightly different color though. Decent quality mace will have a creamy brown color, and poor quality mace will have a darker color. Mace has a taste that is very similar to that of nutmeg; which only makes sense, since it comes from the same plant as nutmeg. There is a slight difference in the tastes of the two spices though. Generally speaking, mace has a fairly seductively sweet taste which is slightly more "snappy" than nutmeg. Now since mace is very similar in taste to nutmeg, it is very easy to substitute the two spices in recipes. Be aware though, that even though the spice is similar in taste to nutmeg, if you use it as a substitute in a recipe, there will be a slightly different taste. This can be a great way to add a new twist to a classic recipe.
Mace can be a great spice to use on things such as pies, pound cakes, cookies, fruit, vegetables, and drinks. The reason for this is that mace will perk up the taste receptors, and the oils that are inherent to the spice are great for blending with other spices and flavors. Simply put, mace is one of the great spices for adding a little zest to your food. Considering that mace is such a versatile spice, there is virtually no end to what it can be used for. All that you really need to do is experiment a little, and see what works for you.
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