Nutmeg or Myristica fragrans is an evergreen tree indigenous to Indonesia. Nutmeg is the actual seed of the tree, roughly egg-shaped and about 20 to 30 mm (0.8 to 1 in) long and 15 to 18 mm (0.6 to 0.7 in) wide, and weighing between 5 and 10 g (0.2 and 0.4 oz) dried, while mace is the dried "lacy" reddish covering or arillus of the seed. This is the only tropical fruit that is the source of two different spices. The nutmeg seed is encased in a mottled yellow, edible fruit, the approximate size and shape of a small peach. The fruit splits in half to reveal a net-like, bright red covering over the seed. This is the aril which is collected, dried and sold as mace. Under the aril is a dark shiny nut-like pit, and inside that is the oval shaped seed which is the nutmeg.
Nutmegs are usually sold without the mace or hard shell. They are oval, about 25 mm (1 in) in length, lightly wrinkled and dark brown on the outside, lighter brown on the inside.Nutmeg and mace have similar taste qualities, nutmeg having a slightly sweeter and mace a more delicate flavour. Mace is often preferred in light dishes for the bright orange, saffron-like hue it imparts. Nutmeg is a tasty addition to cheese sauces and is best grated fresh (see nutmeg grater).
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