Clove is derived from buds of a tropical tree with delicate leaves, which remains green throughout all season. The buds are picked right before they blossom. If the tree is allowed to blossom, it is adorned with pleasant, red flowers. However, to collect the cloves it is important to pick the flowers before they blossom. Clove is a local tree that grows in the volcanic Maluku Islands of Indonesia. According to a legend, what attracted the seamen to Spice Islands was the powerful and entrancing smell of cloves, which could be sensed from afar.
Clove tree buds twice a year, once from July to September and once from November to January. When these buds start to ripen, they are picked before they blossom. Cloves are dried in the sun until they acquire a red brown color. Then they’re ready to serve.
Clove has an assertive and warm aroma with notes of fruit, pepper and camphor. Its taste is fruity but rather sharp and bitter. When chewed it created a numbing effect on your palate.
The substance called eugenol, which gives clove its delicate and original smell is also present in nutmeg, cinnamon, basil and bay leaf.
Clove works well with both savory and sweet dishes. It is one of the best spices to give flavor to different types of meat. However, since it is rather powerful it may tend to overpower other aromatic ingredients you add to your meal. Therefore, do not forget to use it with caution and in small quantities. Clove creates a pleasant harmony with caramelized onion. It also blends well with desserts. It compliments fruit based desserts such as cookies, apple or pear tarts as well as pumpkin dessert prepared with syrup and walnuts. You can also use cloves with sweet root vegetables such as beets and sweet potatoes. As they work well together, mixing cloves, cinnamon and cardamom and using this mixture in pilaf will give you great results.
When purchasing cloves, one of the most important things you need to make sure is that they are clean and unharmed. When you squeeze a high quality clove between your fingers, its fat will come out slightly. Also, high quality cloves have red brown stems and light brown crowns.
You can preserve whole cloves in a tightly closed glass jar for 1 year. Its texture is very hard and it can only be grinded with an electric spice mill. Ground clove is consists of a dark brown powder. Ob the other hand, once grinded it begins to lose its aroma immediately. Therefore, it is smarter to buys whole cloves.
Clove is a great breath refresher. You can carry a small box of whole cloves in your purse and refresh your breath after a meal when needed by chewing one or two whole cloves. On the other hand, you can also enjoy cloves’ digestive qualities.
With cloves you can create a pleasant aroma for your hot beverages. Before pouring tea in your cup, put just one clove in it. Thanks to its fragrant smell, it will make your tea experience much more pleasant. If you boil a glass of milk with a pinch of cinnamon and one or two cloves and flavor it with honey, you will prepare a practical and delicious beverage that will keep you warm during winter months.
Cloves can also help give flavor to sherbets prepared with sweet-bitter fruits such as cherries and strawberries. You can enrich the aroma of your sherbet by adding one or two cloves in it and then pouring it on your desserts.