Cloves are the dried, unopened, nail-shaped flower buds of the evergreen Syzygium aromaticum. They are reddish-brown in color and have a strong, aromatic flavor and aroma.
Cloves are an important ingredient in the spice blends of Sri Lanka and North India. They are used in garam masala, biryanis, and pickles. In the U.S., cloves are used in meats, salad dressings, and desserts. Clove is a key flavor contributor to ketchup and Worchestershire sauce seasoning blends. Chinese and German seasonings also depend on Cloves to flavor meats and cookies.
Cloves are believed to be native to the Molucca Islands of Indonesia. Although Indonesia is the largest producer of Cloves, Zanzibar and Madagascar are the major exporters, where Clove trees cover thousands of acres of the islands. Historically, Cloves originating from Madagascar have been considered superior.
The name Cloves comes from the French "clou", meaning nail. The first references to Cloves are found in Oriental literature in the Han period in China under the name "chicken-tongue spice". From the 8th Century on, Cloves became one of the major spices in European commerce. When the Clove forests were first discovered in Indonesia, all were enchanted with the fragrance and beauty of this tropical evergreen tree which "must always see the sea" in order to thrive. Cloves were extremely costly and played an important part in world history. Wars were fought to secure exclusive rights to the profitable Clove business. In the Moluccas, where Cloves were first found, parents planted a Clove tree when a child was born.
Bright, uniform, reddish-brown
Flavor & Aroma
Pungent and aromatic
The flavor of Cloves are strong, pungent, sweet--almost hot. They are one of the most penetrating of all spices and their bitter, astringent flavor flavor leaves a numbing sensation in the mouth.