WHAT IS IT?
it’s used the world around.
Brings out aromas,
That are oh so nice
in any dish it’s found!
What is the clove? It’s a dried flower bud of a highly aromatic tropical evergreen tree native to the Maluku Islands in Indonesia. Picked before they flower, the buds are sun dried. Fine ground clove is the crown of each bud, no base stem. If your take on cloves is “pumpkin pie” then you are in for an eye-opening experience.
Cloves are one of the most used spices in world cuisines, bringing aroma and flavor to meats, curries, marinades, rice dishes, beverages, spirits desserts and more.
Cloves suggest and accentuate sweetness in the taste of foods. Their pungent aroma is a fragrance that compliments cinnamon, vanilla, red wine and basil, as well as onion, citrus peel, star anise, and peppercorns.
They vary considerably in size, appearance, and pungency depending upon age and where they grew. The majority of what we get in the Northern Hemisphere is from Bangladesh. The Indonesian is the real deal for flavor, although I’ve found that the buds grown in Madagascar and Sri Lanka are in similar enough climate that they have the right pungent pop.
Less is more! They can easily become overwhelming if out of balance to other spices in a dish.
A DAILY GRIND
For a lot of recipes, the whole clove works well, but, for seasonings like Chinese Five Spice or in a pumpkin pie, you’d need ground. Ground clove is available, but often it’s not the buds from the better sources, and also the volatile compounds that give it its fragrance are degraded in a pre-ground. Grab an electric coffee mill that you can use to grind spices and grind up what you need when you need it. You’ll notice the difference!
Clove is originally native to the Moluccas, a chain of volcanic islands near Indonesia, are commercially harvested primarily in Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Madagascar, Zanzibar, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania.
- Pumpkin pie
- Jerk seasoning
- Garam masala
- Occasionally in Chinese Five Spice Powder, in limited quantity
- Rendang and other Indonesian curries
- Porchetta Italian pork roast
- Smoor – Dutch-Indonesian chicken and rice dish
A FEW IMPROVISATIONAL RIFFS:
- Add to a Cuban picadillo for a little piquant pop.
- My Jazz Chef Royale Vanilla Ice Cream blends in a little clove and cinnamon to the traditional bean
- Sub for fennel in my Orleans Avenue Fenella Bean Lavender Pudding
- A nice French-inspired roast chicken seasoned with clove, tarragon, salt and white pepper
- An aromatic fried rice with sweet Chinese sausage and fragrants clove, ginger and galangal.
In ancient times, when they were exclusive to the Maluku Islands, the demand for clove was so high that caps on their export were enforced. The high demand, and price, encouraged farmers in other countries to grow the spice.
The Chinese used clove, at least by written record, as early as the Han dynasty in China (207 BC to AD 220). A spice traded on the Silk Road, the Chinese called it the ‘chicken-tongue’ spice. Subjects who appeared before China’s emperor had to chew one or more to refresh their breath, so as to avoid offense to the ruler.
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