Many of us probably associate "mace" with the defensive pepper spray, but the real mace is actually a pungent spice related to nutmeg. In ground form, it can turn dishes a lovely mustard yellow and add delicate sweet-spicy flavors.
What Is Mace?
Taste: Pungent, sweet
Most Popular Use: Baked goods, meat, stews
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.
How To Use Mace
While mace can be used in sweet dishes similar to nutmeg, this spice really shines in savory dishes. It's often used in spice blends for flavoring meat dishes, stews, curries, savory sauces, homemade pickles, and is a common ingredient in Indian cuisine.
The flavor can become bitter if it's cooked too long, so it's best to add mace toward the end of cooking as a finishing spice. Whole mace blades should also be removed before serving.