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A Tale of Two Spices: Nutmeg and Mace

Did you know that nutmeg and mace are actually siblings? These two are from the same fruit of the nutmeg tree Myristica frangrans. The nutmeg is the oval-shaped pit, which is the fruit, and mace is the bright red webbing that surrounds the shell of the pit. The mace is removed, dried and then ground into a coarse powder that turns a reddish color. The nutmeg can either be dried and left whole and packaged for grating, or dried and grated fresh.

The taste between nutmeg and mace is slightly different with mace being more pungent and spicier, similar to the combination of cinnamon and pepper. And nutmeg can be described as less intense than its sibling with a sweetness similar to cinnamon but more piquant. Both spices actually include some of the same oils that flavor pepper and cloves. Even though they have similar uses in recipes they are both rarely used together. I find that nutmeg does have a sweeter more delicate flavor and fragrance than mace. But you decide which one you prefer?


Nutmeg it is often used in baking recipes for cakes, cookies, and in savory dishes such as soups and stews, sausages, meats, soups, fruits and preserves. And lets not forget about the popular holiday beverage of eggnog which just wouldn't taste the same without a sprinkle of nutmeg.

In terms of using nutmeg with other spices, it works well with allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cranberries, cumin, ginger, pepper, sugar, thyme, and vanilla. You can use nutmeg in savory dishes like asparagus, beans, cabbage, eggs, fish, lamb, onion, carrots, pumpkin, potatoes, sausage, seafood chowders, veal, and yams, as well as coffee drinks.


Mace is primarily used in baking and has long been the dominant flavor in doughnuts. It is often used in cakes, cookies, and in savory dishes just like its sibling, nutmeg. Mace Combines well with allspice, cinnamon, cloves, cranberries, cumin, ginger, sugar, and vanilla and tastes great in eggs, pumpkin, yams, potatoes, sausage, veal, and stuffings.

Celebrate the taste of fall spices with nutmeg and mace and try experimenting with either one. Let me know which one you most prefer - sort of like a test of flavors. It is always interesting to learn about which spices people like to use in their own recipes.

For best nutmeg flavor, purchase whole nutmegs and grate them by using the smallest grater holes just before adding them to your recipe. A whole nutmeg yields at least two to three teaspoons of grated spice, and the best flavor of the nutmeg oil will soon evaporate, so use it quickly.

I'd love to share this fabulous recipe for making Sweet Potato Muffins using nutmeg. I hope you will enjoy this delicious treat!

Sweet Potato Muffins - click link