WHAT IS IT?
The clove is one of the most commonly-used spices in the world. Cloves are used in everything from pumpkin pie spice, and sweet pickles, to curries, sambals, and all kinds of cuisines, all over the globe!
It is a dried unopened flower bud of a highly aromatic tropical evergreen, the clove tree. Native to the Maluku Islands in Indonesia, it is produced in many places today.
The whole clove retains its essential oils better. It is easily ground, either in a spice mill, or with a mortar and pestle. The powder is convenient, or good if you’re mixing up a big batch of a spice blend. Otherwise, keep it whole, and grind as you go!
We like this Frontier Co-Op ground clove, sourced from Madagascar. It’s Non-GMO certified organic, which makes it PC, It’s really the depth of flavor of the clove, though, that I love in our test kitchens.
Cloves’ essential oil is eugenol, a uniquely sweet, lightly peppery flavor, with a strongly pungent aroma. If you’re thinking “sweet pickles” when you smell it, that would be because the American sweet pickle has a big clove component in it.
It compliments cinnamon, allspice, vanilla, red wine and basil, as well as onion, citrus peel, star anise, and white peppercorns.
Cloves are native to the Moluccas, a chain of volcanic islands near Indonesia, but they are commercially harvested in Bangladesh, Indonesia, India, Madagascar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Zanzibar.
The oldest tree in existence is more than 300 years old, but human cultivation goes back at least 3,700 years!
- Key ingredient in pumpkin pie spice;
- The fruity edge of Caribbean jerk chicken;
- Mulled wine;
- Spiced pears or peaches;
- Found in ham cures, barbecue sauces, glazes, sambals, and much much more!
A FEW IMPROVISATIONAL RIFFS:
- A vanilla ice cream with a little clove and ground vanilla bean is both super-fragrant, tasty, and colorful;
- Add a little fragrance to Irish Soda Bread;
- A nice accent for a homemade peach nectar
- A role player in my Akiyoshi’s Aromatic Bitters
The earliest trace of cloves was found in a ceramic vessel in Syria dating back to 1721 BCE. Written mention of cloves from the Han dynasty in China (207 BC to AD 220) observe that officers of the king’s court were made to hold cloves in their mouth when talking to the royal personage, to “insure the sweetness and acceptability of their breath.”
Cloves were traded in the Muslim world by sailors and merchants of the Middle Ages. The Dutch East India company tried cornering the cloves market in European trade, but Pierre Poivre, a Frenchman, stole seed stock from the oldest clove tree in the world, in 1770, and began a clove plantation on the Isle de France (modern-day Mauritius). He then later set up business in Zanzibar, which became the world’s largest producer of cloves for many years.
- clavos de olor (Mexico)
Get top quality from our friends at Frontier Co-Op, which has been delivering top-quality organic, non-GMO, Kosher-certified spices since 1976.
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