Nutmeg or Mace?

Nutmeg or Mace?
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Nutmeg is the seed from the nutmeg tree (Myristica fragrans), while mace is made from the "webbing" type covering on the seed that is dried and later ground. That's why you'll often see the two spices used as substitutes of each other. But really, they should be used individually in their own way and not interchangeably. Mace is more pungent than nutmeg and usually only sold ground because it's so hard to grind after drying. You wouldn't get the same type of flavor as you would get from using the fresh nutmeg.
Though I'd always used ground nutmeg growing up, there really is no comparison between ground, and grating fresh yourself. It loses it's fragrance and taste very quickly once it's ground, but you can keep a whole nutmeg in an airtight container and grind it as needed for a very long time. You'll really appreciate the spicy sweet taste of freshly ground in your recipes. One whole nutmeg, grated, equals 2 to 3 teaspoons ground nutmeg. Keep it stored away from heat and tightly sealed until ready to use. You can grate nutmeg with a special grater made for this or use the smallest holes on a kitchen grater.

Nutmeg can be used in spinach, sweet potato or squash recipes, as well as pumpkin dishes. Grate a little into egg dishes, whipped creams, sweet sauces for desserts, pound cakes, nut breads, sugar cookies or cakes. As you can see you'll find a lot of ways to use a whole nutmeg! The following recipes have amounts using freshly grated nutmeg, which is much stronger than the ground nutmeg you purchase. If you are using ground then you should double the amounts in these recipes.

Pumpkin Biscuits


2 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1/4 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nutmeg; cut in the cold butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Combine buttermilk and pumpkin in a bowl; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead lightly 5 times. Roll dough to about a 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into 12 biscuits with a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter. Place on a greased or sprayed baking sheet. Bake 11 minutes or until golden. Serve with butter and honey.

Spiced Nutmeg Cookies


1 cup softened butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9X13 inch baking pan. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugars together until light. Mix in the vanilla. In a small bowl mix together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Slowly blend the flour mixture into the butter mixture until well mixed. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan. Using a fork, prick holes evenly around the dough for decoration. Bake for 17-22 minutes, or until the edges are just golden brown. Cool then cut into squares or triangles. Store airtight.

Peach Nutmeg Scones


2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon baking powder

6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces

2 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup vanilla yogurt

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup diced fresh peaches

2 tablespoons melted butter

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, sift the flour, salt, sugar, nutmeg and baking powder together. Blend the butter into the dry ingredients, using your fingertips or a fork. Whisk the eggs, yogurt and almond extract together. Stir into the dry ingredients. Add the peaches and stir just until mixed. The dough will be sticky. Flour your surface well, place dough down and pat it into a 1 inch thick circle. Cut into wedges with a sharp serrated knife. Place scones on well-greased cookie sheet. Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle with the sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned and done in the middle.

Nutmeg Praline French Toast


8 slices Italian or French bread, 3/4-inch thick

4 large eggs

1 cup milk

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

2 Tbsp. orange juice

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

1/3 cup butter

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 Tbsp. butter, melted

Place bread in single layer in 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish. Whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, juice, vanilla, nutmeg and salt. Pour over bread, turning once to coat evenly. Refrigerate, covered, several hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place 1/3 cup butter on a 15 x 10-inch jelly roll pan; melt butter in oven on the baking sheet. Remove from oven, and make sure it's coated evenly with butter. Arrange bread in single layer in prepared pan. Bake, uncovered, about 25 minutes or until firm and golden brown. Meanwhile, combine pecans, brown sugar and 1 tablespoon butter in small bowl. Sprinkle over baked French toast. Broil, about 5 inches from heat, watching carefully, about 1 minute or until topping begins to bubble.

Sweet Potato Soup


4 large sweet potatoes, peeled

8 thin carrots, peeled, ends removed

1 sweet onion, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (peel first)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1 tsp. salt

1 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup milk

In a large pot, boil sweet potatoes and carrots until very soft. Drain, and cube. In a saucepan, sauté onions in oil until soft. In a food processor, puree sweet potatoes, carrots, onion, ginger, nutmeg, salt and pepper until slightly textured. Add cream and milk. . Reheat gently and serve with minced fresh parsley sprinkled on top.


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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