Mace spice is a dried, outer aril, enveloping firmly around the nutmeg kernel. Nutmeg kernel and mace arils indeed are two separate spice products of same nutmeg fruit. However, spice-mace has characteristically composed higher concentration of certain essential oils and features refined, yet more intense aroma than nutmeg. For the same reasons, it commands a higher price and special place in the kitchen spice box!
Mace, as well as the nutmeg seeds, were thought to have originated in the tropical rainforest of the Indonesian Maluku Islands, also known as the “Spice Islands.” Binomially, nutmeg is evergreen tree belonging to Myristicaceae family and scientifically called as Myristica fragrans.
Botanically, the nutmeg fruit, in fact, is a drupe-like apricot. Once completely ripen, it splits open through its bottom (basal) end to reveal a single, centrally situated oval shaped hard seed (kernel) known commercially as the “nutmeg.” Adhering closely to this nutmeg kernel is crimson-red, lacy or thread like arils known as mace spice. This mace aril is then carefully peeled off nutmeng kernel; either by hand or using a knife. It allowed to dry under the shade for 3-4 days. Dried mace arils, which now attained amber color are then processed and graded before being dispatched to the market.