Mace – The Outer Protective Covering Of The Nutmeg
Mace is the bright red lacy outer shell covering of the nutmeg called the aril. The nutmeg kernel with the aril covering is the seed of an evergreen tree that has leaves that are shiny dark green leaves on top and light green underneath. The tree is a member of the Myristicaceae family also called the nutmeg family. The lacy red fingerlike covering are the first thing that is seen wrapped around the center pit which is the actual nutmeg. The aroma of nutmeg is sharper and spicier than mace which is milder in both aroma and taste.
The spice is native to the Moluccas also known as the Banda Islands and Spice Islands in the Indonesian archipelago.
The spice was known Asia, China and India before the birth of Christ and had made its way to the Mediterranean by AD 500. By the 13th century it was widely known in Europe. The spice trade that flourished during the 16th century saw the Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish all vying for control of the trade.
The blades of the aril are more expensive than nutmeg and when dried turn from a bright red to a creamy mellow orange and are ground into powder. The blades can be stored almost indefinitely in an airtight container.
The aril is used for medicinal purposes in China and Southeast Asia. When used in culinary preparations the aril works well with stock, clear soups, onion sauces, vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, potatoes, and spinach, chicken, egg dishes, fish, shellfish, seafood chowder, potted meats, veal, lamb, cheese soufflés, crème cheese desserts, pumpkin pie, sweet potato, and chocolate drinks.
For additional information about mace click on the link to Wikipedia.org
For some great sections on herbs and spices some great references are:
• The Spice and Herb Bible – Second Edition by Ian Hemphill with recipes by Kate Hemphill
• The Food Encyclopedia by Jacques L. Rolland and Carol Sherman with other contributors
• Field Guide to Herbs & Spices by Aliza Green
• The Contemporary Encyclopedia of Herbs & Spices – Seasonings For The Global Kitchen by Tony Hill
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