Botanical Name: Myristica fragrans

Family: Myristicaceae

Hindi Name: Javitri

Mace is native to the Molucca Island, New Guinea, Bondy Islands, and now cultivated in many tropical countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, West Indies, India, Sri Lanka, etc. In India it is cultivated in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and the hills of Wynad.

It grows well in a hot and moist climate, in loamy soil with good drainage. Mace and nutmeg are derived from the fruit of the same tree. Mace is the thin, bright red aril or lace-like covering over the shell of the nutmeg. Its flavour is similar to nutmeg but it is more delicate.

Historically, mace originating from the East Indies has been considered premium due to its bold orange or red colour, rich flavour and high volatile oil content. Mace produced in the West Indies is yellowish in colour, and has a milder flavour. The Dutch had a tight monopoly of mace and nutmeg in Indonesia until the eighteenth century, but seedlings were smuggled out of the country. Transplantation in other areas began soon after. Mace became known in Europe comparatively late when the Arab traders introduced it in the European markets. In Europe it was first used chiefly for flavouring beer.

The evergreen, aromatic nutmeg tree usually grows to a height of 9 to 12 m, at times reaching a height of 20 m or more. When the apricot or peach-like nut bursts open, the mace comes out. It has an attractive bright red colour, while the nutmeg inside is shiny black. On drying, the mace turns pale yellowish-brown or reddish-brown, and becomes brittle.

The composition of the mace is as follows:

  • Protein: 6.5 %
  • Ether: 24.4 %
  • Carbohydrates: 47.8 %
  • Minerals: 1.6 %
  • Calcium: 0.18 %
  • Phosphorus: 0.13 %
  • Iron: 12.6 mg/100g

The main constituents of mace are volatile oil, protein, gum, resins, sugars and two fixed oils. The oil of mace resembles nutmeg oil in odour, flavour and composition.

Mace is used in soups, cream sauces, Iamb, chicken, meats, cheeses, stuffings, sausages, puddings, ketchups, baked goods and doughnuts. It is used in Indian, English, French, Asian, West Indian and Southeast Asian cuisines.

The mace is strongly aromatic, spicy and warm, as similar to nutmeg. Mace is generally said to have a finer aroma than nutmeg, but the difference is small. Mace is stimulant, tonic, carminative, and a flavouring agent. The herb is used to help digestion and stomach weakness. It is helpful in increasing blood circulation and regulating body temperature. It is used in pharmaceutical preparations for nausea, vomiting, dysentery, flatulence, malaria, rheumatism, sciatica and leprosy. The volatile oil is used as a flavourant in liquor, tobacco and dental creams.

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