Do you have a recipe that calls for mace? If your kitchen is like many modern kitchens, there is a good chance you don’t have it on hand. Read on for a few mace substitutes to help make your life easier and save you some time and money!
What is Mace?
Mace is a yellowish-brown spice that can be more expensive than many popular aromatic spices. The mace is native to Indonesia (dubbed the Spice Islands) but can also be found in the Caribbean islands.
Mace is used most commonly in Caribbean, Asian, Indian, and Moroccan cuisines but can also be found in French, British and Dutch recipes. It is often found in spice blends and baked goods – particularly cakes, donuts, puddings, and custards. In some countries, it can also be a component of savory dishes like sauces, soups, poultry, and even fish recipes.
Mace and its common spice cousin nutmeg, both come from the same plant – the Nutmeg tree (Myristica Fragrans). Since nutmeg is the seed and mace is actually the ground up seed covering, the flavor will be quite similar. In fact Mace has a flavor that can be described as woody, warm, and sweet.
The Best Spice Substitutes for Mace
When you come across a recipe that calls for mace, you can use nutmeg as an alternative, however, nutmeg has a slightly more pungent flavor. So it’s common practice to use less nutmeg than you would for mace. Start sparingly and add more to taste.
If you don’t have nutmeg on hand, another alternative is ground Allspice. It has a similar flavor profile but is much stronger. If using Allspice, in order to maintain a the recipe’s flavor integrity, it is best to reduce the amount of Mace called for by half and then add more if needed.
Ground cinnamon and ginger are also good mace substitutes. These alternatives can be replaced closer to a 1:1 ratio with the Mace, but remember – since they are not the original, intended ingredient, it may be best to start slow and add more to taste.
Mace Blades – A Cheaper option
Since the harvest of a Nutmeg Tree results in far more nutmeg (the seed) than mace (the covering), mace (particularly the blades) tends to be a bit pricey. That’s why people are much more likely to look for recipes using nutmeg or other, more readily available, spices.
In the event you do have to purchase Mace for your dish, it’s cheaper if you buy mace in its whole form (dried blades) than a pre-ground powder. This is because ground mace is stronger and tends to keep its flavor and fragrance longer than mace blades. When using mace blades, keep in mind that one teaspoon of ground mace is equivalent to one tablespoon of mace blades.
For the best flavor, as with nutmeg, consider buying whole mace blades and grinding them as needed. Mace blades are easy to grind. Just pop them in a spice grinder (or a mortar and pestle), give it a quick whirl, you will have ground mace in no time.
In order to wake up the essential oils for more fragrant spice, consider roasting (and cooling) mace blades prior to grinding.
It is also common to toast mace blades in a dry pan, just until fragrant and crispy. You may want to toast other spices like cloves and cardamom at the same time. The mace blades are commonly used to infuse flavor into rice, stocks, and steamed dishes with long cooking times.
Where to buy Ground Mace and Whole Mace Blades
While you can find ground mace in some grocery stores and supermarkets, mace blades are often available in international food markets and spice shops.
Ground mace and mace blades are also easily found through online retailers. Be mindful that buying mace blades from the bulk bins at a health food store may save you some money, but using one of the above spices as substitute for mace is still the most affordable option.