Tuesday, 25 November 2014


Here's the second spice in my new monthly series – Cloves.  The first one was about Pepper.

Cloves are the dried unopened buds of the clove tree – which is part of the myrtle family. 

Cloves are an ancient spice – they were known to the Chinese in the 3rd century – they sucked cloves to perfume their breaths.

Clove oil was known for its antiseptic and anaesthetic qualities – and, indeed, cloves are often used for toothache even today.  Cloves have some anti-bacterial properties.  Clove oil is said to repel mosquitoes.

Indonesia is the biggest producer of cloves but it is also the biggest importer!  All those cloves go into a sort of cigarette they smoke there.

It is hard to describe the smell of cloves - spicy, peppery, woody… but they have a very powerful flavor.  Cloves are
used in apple dishes, in curries and in spiced wines – they also used in hot cross buns.  Don't go wild with your quantities.  Cloves need to be handled with restraint.

Whole cloves, properly stored, should last just fine for 3 years.  I tend to buy a new packet each Christmas to do our traditional Christmas ham.

Cloves are one of the ingredients in Worcestershire sauce.

Cloves are used a lot in Indian cooking.  Powdered, they are one of the main ingredients in garam masala.

In French cooking cloves are often studded into a whole onion and simmered.  This makes it easier to remove the cloves before serving.

Ideas - add some cloves to rice as it cooks or add a touch of ground cloves into curries

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