Small dark brown or black little buds that resemble tiny needles or nails and also quite similar to taste .. that is it is sharp and hence gives a good flavour punch!
Cloves grow on the evergreen clove tree and are the unopened pink flower buds. The buds are picked by hand when they are pink and dried until they turn dark brown to black in colour.
This is the reason why it’s an expensive spice, as it involves manual labour.
Cloves are commercially grown in the Indonesia, India, Sri-lanka, West Indies, Madagascar, Pemba and Brazil.
Cloves are extensively used in Asian cuisine and in few European cuisines such as French and German cooking too.
The strong flavour and its many medicinal benefits, it’s the spice that you should have in your kitchen pantry.
English – Cloves, clove buds
Indian – Laung
German – Nelken
Flavour Profile of Spice
Cloves are one of the most powerful and intense spices of the world. The taste is strong, pungent, combined with a bitter, sweet astringent flavour.
Given the intensity of the spice, one should use it with caution and in less quantity. Using too much of cloves in a dish can be overpowering.
Cloves can be used to make many dishes especially stews, soups, Indian curries, and a base ingredient for making spice blends and marinades.
Uses of Cloves for Cooking
Like most whole spices, cloves are used whole in many Indian dishes as the first step to add flavour to the oil.
Cloves are tempered with warm oil at the very beginning of the cooking process.
Other whole spices can also be added to the oil during the tempering process.
Powdered cloves are used to add to many spice blends, especially in Indian blends.
Benefits of Cloves
There are many health benefits of cloves. I have listed few of the benefits of using cloves which I have personally experienced.
A power-packed spice of nutrients – Cloves are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and is rich in minerals (especially Magnesium) and vitamins.
Clove includes mineral such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc and calcium.
Thiamin, riboflavin, Vitamin C, niacin, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K and vitamin D are the vitamins precent in cloves.
Helps alleviate toothache and maintain good oral health – Clove contains pain-killing properties that are known to provide relief from toothaches. Therefore clove oil is one of the most common ingredients found in most kinds of toothpaste.
Recently I was suffering from a toothache and the tiny dot of clove oil helped me a great deal.
Chewing on a bud of clove is also a great mouth freshener and helps in improving and maintaining good oral hygiene.
Helps Treat Morning sickness – During both my pregnancies I suffered from serious morning sickness. I resorted to sucking on a clove from time to time. It sure helped to treat morning sickness and kick start the day in a fresh, energized way.
Treats cure common cold and respiratory disorder – A common problem we all suffer from, especially when the weather change is common cold coupled with a cough.
One of the many health benefits of cloves is that it works as an excellent expectorant that is, it loosens mucus in the oesophagus and throat so that we can cough it out.
Making a warm tea with cloves and few black peppers with added honey is great as a natural cough syrup for both adults and children alike.
Spice Buying Guide
As with all my spice buying suggestions, I again recommend buying whole cloves instead of clove powder or clove oil.
An easy way to measure the quality of cloves is to place a clove in a cup of water. Those of good quality will float vertically while those that are stale will either sink or float horizontally
Cloves should always be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a dark, dry place away from direct sunlight.
Well stored cloves will keep its flavour for almost a year.
Best Food and Spice matching
As mentioned earlier, cloves are intensive spice and should be used in moderation and with caution.
Best food pairing: Rice, legumes, lentils, onions, red meat, soups, stews and curries
Best spice pairing: Nutmeg, bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon,
Spice Substitute for Cloves
The flavour of cloves is very strong due to the presence of eugenol, the chemical that makes up most of the taste of clove.
Therefore it requires similarly strong spices as a substitute for cloves. Few alternatives are: Allspice berries, nutmeg, and Cinnamon.
Easy Recipes with Cloves to Try
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