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Ues of Cloves in Cooking and More

Ues of Cloves in Cooking and More

Cloves is one of the most intense spices with many health benefits. Learn all about the benefits of cloves, using cloves for cooking and storing.

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A staple in South Asian cuisine, the uses of cloves in cooking is far reaching and extensive.

It is more than just a flavourful spice. The health benefits of cloves is steeped in the ancient study of Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine as it is packed with antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties.

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 adds a flavour punch to the dish!

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.

Cooking with cloves is very popular 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.

What Is Cloves In Other Languages

Cloves in English – Cloves, clove buds

Cloves in Hindi – Laung

Cloves in German – Nelken

French –  Clous de girofle
Spanish – Clavos de olor

What Does Cloves Taste Like

Cloves are one of the most powerful and intense spices of the world. The clove taste is strong, pungent, combined with a bitter, sweet astringent flavour.

Cloves add warm spiciness to a dish, however if you bite into a whole clove it may taste slightly bitter and sharp .

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.

The flavour of cloves is earthy with undertones similar to that of cinnamon and nutmeg .

It is a versatile spice that can be used for making both sweet and savoury dishes. especially stews, soups, Indian curries, and a base ingredient for making spice blends and marinades.

How To Grind Cloves

The most popular form of cloves used in cooking is the whole form. Whole cloves tend to be less intense as compared to ground cloves.

In case you do not like the feel of whole cloves in your mouth then you can also grind them into powder.

You can easily ground the cloves using a mortal and pestle or a spice grinder for larger quantity of cloves.

Ground cloves is mostly used for making cakes and bakes.

Uses of Cloves for Cooking

Cinnamon and cloves are two of the most important spices used during the festive season especially Christmas. The anti-oxidant properties and robust bold flavours of these popular winter spices can help not only uplift our mood but also safeguard us against winter ailments.

As mentioned cloves can be used in difference forms for cooking. Below are few ideas on how to cook with cloves.

Uses of Whole Cloves

Like most whole spices, cloves are used whole in many Indian dishes as the first step to add flavour to the oil.

  1. Temper and add them with whole spices

When it comes to using whole cloves in Indian food, the tempering cooking method is used. Here cloves are tempered in warm oil at the very beginning of the cooking process. The option is to add other whole spices along with cloves and follow the recipe.

2. Use whole cloves to make tea

Whole cloves can be used to boil in water and made into a herbal clove tea.

3. Add cloves to broth, brine, soups and stews

Want to add instant flavour to your meats and fish, add few cloves to your broth, brine and stews for an aromatic lift.

4. Add to alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Mulled wine, hot toddy, masala chai are some of the most popular beverages made with whole cloves. You can add cloves to both warm and cold drinks.

5. Add with steamed veges , meat and fish

Throw in a few cloves to add flavour to steamed veges, fish and meat.

6. Poke into meat, fruits, vegetables

If you do not wish to get intense clove flavour to the dish but a subtle woody aroma then poke in some whole cloves into the skin of fruits like apples, pear, peach, nectarine etc before you poach them.

You can also prick whole cloves into meat and fish steak before BBQ or steaming.

Uses of Ground Cloves

  1. Make spice blends and seasonings

Powdered cloves are used to add with other spices to make different types of spice blends. It is one of the key ingredients for making Garam Masala Powder.

2. Use in baked goods

Cinnamon and cloves are synonymous with winter bakes for its robust fragrant aroma . Ground cloves can be added to cakes, biscuits, buns, pies and breads for an aromatic earthiness.

3. Add to drinks and desserts

Quater to half a teaspoon of ground cloves adds a refreshing taste to drinks and desserts, especially to milk-based desserts such as puddings.

Read about 28 Essential Indian Spices and How to Use Them for Cooking. 

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.

You can read a more detailed list of benefits of cloves here. 

  1. 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.

2, 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

Can You Eat Whole Cloves

A question asked with it comes to cooking with whole spices is that can you eat them?

It is absolutely safe to chew and swallow whole cloves. However, be very careful when giving it to babies, toddlers or vulnerable adults and kids as there may be a possibility of them choking on them if they are unable to swallow them.

I prefer to take them out of the dish before serving as biting into a whole clove can be a bit bitter and not to everyone tastes. You can of course take it out of your mouth and discard if you do not wish to swallow them.

It is a common practice to chew on one or two whole cloves to bring out the oil content in it especially when taken as a mouth freshener or chewed as a pain relief.

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

Indian masala chai recipe

Indian Masala Chai Recipe

Indian Kadha Tea recipe for cough

Kadha Tea For Cold and Cough

Chicken rezala in a white bowl

Chicken Rezala

Do you have something to add to the post?

Like a benefit that you know of or may have experienced in real life or perhaps have a favourite recipe with the spice?

Please do share your thoughts. I love to hear from you. And as always if you think this article deserves more eyes then please do share by clicking the share and/or save buttons.

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6 years ago

Wow! I had no idea cloves were packed with so many health benefits! I always have them on hand, but confess I don’t use them very often. And I love the image you found on Pinterest showing the benefits. Thanks so much for all this information!!

6 years ago

We love cloves and they are so good in a chai latte!

Erin @ Suburban Simplicity

What a helpful and informative post. I love the way you included the spice pairings!

6 years ago

Cloves are one of my most favourite spices. So warming!

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