Cloves are the aromatic dried immature flower buds of the tropical myrtle tree native to Indonesia. Its English name derives from Latin ‘clavus,’ meaning nail, that is attributed to its unique shape. Cloves’ sweet, spicy and pungent flavour partners well with earthy spices like cinnamon and cumin, or fruity herbs like hibiscus, in both sweet and savoury dishes. As its flavour is very dominant, cloves are required only sparingly in a spice blend.
It is best to purchase whole cloves and grind into powder just prior to using them as the powder loses it flavour quickly. When using whole cloves in cooking, stud them into a large ingredient (such as an orange or onion depending on the dish) and make sure to remove them before serving so as not to overwhelm the dish. A useful tip for checking the quality of dried cloves is to put them in a glass of water. Good cloves float vertically, while substandard cloves – which have probably lost their oils – lie horizontally on the water surface. Clove
Originally, cloves were far more valued for their medicinal use than as a spice. In ancient times, the Chinese use cloves as a remedy for toothache by inserting a clove between the affected tooth. Eugenol, the main active ingredient of clove is analgesic, antiseptic and antiviral. Cloves are still an easy household remedy for fresh pleasant breath – simply swirl a clove around your mouth for three minutes, chewing it a little if you wish.
As with other hot herbs, cloves are also effective expectorants for congestive cough, bronchitis and asthma and is also a well-known digestive and aphrodisiac, probably due to a general stimulating effect.« Back to Glossary Index