Cloves

General Description

Cloves are the rich, brown, dried, unopened flower buds of Syzygium aromaticum, an evergreen tree in the myrtle family. The name comes from the French "clou" meaning nail.


Geographical Sources Cloves come from Madagascar, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.


Traditional Ethnic Uses Cloves are used in spice cookies and cakes. Much of the world crop is used in Indonesia for Clove cigarettes, called "kreteks".


Taste and Aroma Description Cloves are strong, pungent, and sweet.


History/Region of Origin Cloves are native to the Molucca Islands, now a part of Indonesia. Cloves have been used for thousands of years. One of the earliest references to them says that the Chinese, in order to approach the emperor, had to have a few Cloves in their mouths to sweeten the breath. Cloves were once very costly and played an important part in world history. Wars were fought in Europe and with native islanders to secure rights to the profitable Clove business. Natives in the Molucca Islands planted a Clove tree for each child born. They believed that the fate of the tree was linked to the fate of that child. In 1816, the Dutch set a fire to destroy Clove trees and raise prices. The natives revolted in a bloody battle which changed the climate and politics of the area forever.


Storage Tips Store in cool, dark, dry places.


A Few Ideas to Get You Started Ground Cloves add spicy depth to gingerbread, cookies, applesauce, muffins, cakes, and other sweets. It's a secret ingredient in barbecue and cocktail sauces. Blend Ground Cloves with maple syrup and drizzle over cooked sweet potatoes and winter squash. Add a few Whole Cloves to bean and split pea soups (remove before serving). Eugenol (clove oil) will collect and cake in the container when Cloves are stored in a warm place. If you choose to grind your own Cloves, do not use a grinder that has plastic parts. Clove oil can cloud some plastics.

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