Cloves- eugenia caryophyllata
Cloves are another favourite spice because they are so versatile, filled with wonderful aroma and great taste. Cloves come whole and ground which makes them suitable for use with roasts, sauces, drinks and much more.
A sweetness that penetrates the taste buds and then comes on with a mild hotness at the edges of the tongue followed by a cooling spicy and slightly sour sensation. In a few words…tastes good!
How to Use:
Stud a ham, glazed pork or beef with whole cloves before roasting. Stud an onion with cloves and use it to flavour chiken stock or place the studded onion inside a duck before roasting. Stud an orange with cloves, bake it briefly and use it to flavour mulled wine. Great as a flavouring in pot roast, spiced tongue, marinades, sauces, pickling and soups. Also excellent with spice cakes, fruit cakes, mincemeat, meringues, glazes, fruit pies, gingerbread, plum pudding, cookies, some breads, fruit salads, chili sauce, catsup, beef stew, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, green vegetables, beverages such as mulled wine and spiced nuts. Cloves are also a necessary ingredient in some bouquet garnis (a collection of spices wrapped in cheesecloth and placed into a soup or stew while cooking). Cloves are also an ingredient in Chinese five spice powder, curry powders and pickling spice mixtures.
Clove, small, reddish-brown flower bud of the tropical evergreen tree Syzygium aromaticum of the family Myrtaceae, was important in the earliest spice trade and believed in indigenous to the Moluccas or Spice Islands (now Maluka), of Indonesia. The people of the Moluccas used to plant a clove tree to celebrate the birth of a child and would wear a necklace of cloves as a protection from evil spirit and illness. Strong in aroma and hot and pungent in taste, cloves are used to flavour many foods, particularly meats and bakery products; in Europe and the USA the spice is a characteristic flavouring in Christmas holiday fare, such as wassail and mincemeat. The name clove is believed to be derived from the French word clou meaning nail due to the appearance of this spice. As early as 200 BC, envoys from Java to the Han-dynasty court of China brought cloves that were customarily held in the mouth to perfume the breath during audiences with the emperor.
During the late Middle ages, cloves were used in Europe to preserve, flavour, and garnish food. Clove cultivation was almost entirely confined to Indonesia, and in the early 17th century the Dutch eradicated cloves on all islands except Amboina and Ternate in order to create scarcity and sustain high prices. In the latter half of the 18th century the French smuggled cloves from the East Indies to Indian Ocean islands and the New World, breaking the Dutch monopoly.
The clove tree is an evergreen that grows to about 8 to 12 m in height. Its gland-dotted leaves are small, simple and opposite. The trees are usually propagated from seeds that are planted in shaded areas. Flowering begins about the fifth year; a tree may annually yield up to 75 pounds (34 kg) of dried buds. The buds, just before the flowers open, are hand-picked in late summer and again in winter and are then sun-dried. The island of Zanzibar, which is part of Tanzania, is the world's largest producer of cloves. Madagascar and Indonesia are smaller producers. Cloves vary in length from about 1/2 to 3/4 inch (13 to 19 mm).
Cloves contain 14 to 20 percent essential oil, the principal component of which is the aromatic oil eugenol (70 - 90%). Cloves are strongly pungent owing to eugenol, which is extracted by distillation to yield oil of cloves.
Three essential oils are available from this spice: clove bud oil, clove stem oil and clove leaf oil. Each has different chemical composition and flavour. Clove bud oil, the most expensive and the best quality product, contains eugenol (80 - 90%), eugenol acetate (15%) and beta caryophyllene (5 - 12%).
Cloves are ingredients in many classic spice mixtures. Whole cloves are frequently used to flavour cooking liquids for simmering fish, poultry, game and meat. They feature in classic sauces and are used in the bakery industry and the processed meats industry as a ground spice.
Medicinal and other use
The clove oil is used to prepare microscopic slides for viewing and is also a local anesthetic for toothaches. It is a strong antiseptic and preservative. It is used to treat flatulence, colic, indigestion and nausea. Eugenol is used in germicides, perfumes and mouthwashes, in the synthesis of vanillin, and as a sweetener or intensifier.
The clove looks likes it's name in the French language, "clou", which means nail. The English word derives from the Latin, "clavus", which also means nail. The clove is the dried unopened bud of an evergreen tree of the myrtle family. . They are reddish brown in colour. They smell good in the jar and even better on the trees where they grow, in warm climates often within sight of the ocean.
Cloves--like cinnamon, turmeric, and bay leaves--triple the ability of insulin to metabolize glucose in the lab, thus helping our bodies burn the sugar we need for energy.
Indian Institute of Spices Research, India