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Having watched the new programme this January with Jeremy Clarkson, I was delighted that a question about spice was asked.

The question was (along the lines of) Which spice is associated or from the same family as Nutmeg ? Obviously, I got the answer correct. However, I realised there are so many, who probably don’t know the answer and are unfamiliar with both of these spices in their raw form.

The answer was mace. Both spices have quite different looks, texture and smell.

Nutmeg resembles a wooden egg and has a distinctive pungent fragrance and a warm slightly sweet taste. It is typically used to flavour many kinds of baked goods, milk based puddings, but is also added to savoury dishes such as  potatoes, meats, sausages, sauces and vegetables. .

Nutmeg is the seed from the Myristica fragrans (nutmeg) tree. The tree is native to the Maluku or Spice Islands of Indonesia and it is the only tree which is the source of two distinct spices in the world. It is commonly grown in the Caribbean and also in Southern India.

The seeds are dried gradually in the sun over a period of six to eight weeks. During this time the nutmeg shrinks from its hard seed coat until the kernels rattle in their shells when shaken. The shell is then broken with a wooden club and the nutmegs are picked out and ground into a powder.

Mace looks like a delicate dried orange flower called ‘aril’ and more commonly known as mace blades, but more often then not is purchased as a ground fine powder.

It cocoons the nutmeg seed and is often bright red in colour. The Mace blades are dried out over 10-14 days, at which time the colour fades to a more deep orange. It is then usually crushed into a fine powder for the Western market.  This spice is very popular in Indian cuisines, where it is known as “Javatri” and features in The Spice Yard’s Garam Masala alongside 12 other ingredients.

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