The Spice Series: Cloves

This is a continuation of my Spice Series. Welcome to my information on Cloves!

Illustration by Christy Beckwith


**Cloves are a popular spice around the world. They are used in both sweet and savory dishes. Americans traditionally stud hams with cloves and add them to Christmas fruitcakes. Cloves are also part of the distinctive flavor of Worcestershire sauce and are possibly one of the “secret” spices in Heinz ketchup.

**Cloves have tons of medicinal benefits, the most popular medicinal benefit being the use of them for toothaches.

**Cloves are the unopened buds from an evergreen tree that flowers twice a year. Growing and harvesting cloves is very complicated because they have to be picked at exactly the right time.

**Since Cloves are difficult to harvest unless you are a professional and the trees grow to be over 30 feet tall and they need hot, humid temperatures, I have not included a ‘how to grow’ section to this post. If anyone has had any luck growing cloves themselves, I would LOVE to ask you some questions about it!


I hope you like this material, and, as always, if you have any questions/comments/additional sources for me, please post in the comment section below! Enjoy!


 Medicinal Benefitsclovesgroundandwhole

**For centuries, cloves have been used for toothaches. This is for good reason. The essential oils in cloves is called eugenol, which is a mild anesthetic. Clove oil is, in fact, just as powerful as benzocaine in numbing oral tissue (reported by researchers in the Journal of Dentistry). The moment you bite into a clove, there is an instant rush of numbness in that area.

**Eugenol also acts as a boost to circulation: when you rub it on a painful tooth, the blood vessels near the gums dilate, which brings blood to the surface with a soothing sensation. It is also an anti-inflammatory, by reducing the redness and swelling around the infected tooth. It is also an antibacterial, and kills the germs by the tooth. What a perfect tool for a natural medicine kit! Check out my post here if you are interested in Clove essential oil.


**The clove’s eugenol benefits are not just limited to your teeth and gums. It can fight bacteria (and viruses) throughout the body. This includes: bacteria that causes stomach ulcers and stomach cancer, E. coli (food poisoning), staph infections, bladder infections, respiratory infections, and Hepatitis C.

**Cloves may also help prevent and/or treat: arthritis, asthma, bad breath, blood clots, bronchial problems, cancer, cold sores, mosquito bites, and skin disorders.

**For mosquito bites, put away those citronella candles and use cloves or clove oil! Mosquitoes hate cloves and will avoid the area.


**Do YOU use cloves or clove oil for medicinal purposes? If so, how? Has it been working for you? Please share in the comment section below!


Culinary Usescloves(1)

**Cloves have a pungent, almost woodsy aroma as well as a sweet, almost musty taste. Remember that they can overpower a dish: it only takes a FEW cloves to add aroma or flavor to a dish, no matter if it is sweet or savory.

**In Western cultures, cloves have long been relegated to only sweets, but they are beginning to be seen in savory dishes as well, albeit very slowly. The rest of the world has always appreciated the benefits of cloves in their meat rubs, curries, etc.

**The French stud cloves into onions to add aroma to stocks and stews. The Germans love to add cloves to pot roast and other long-cooking meat dishes. The British like to put cloves in their puddings and apple tart.

**In China, cloves are a key ingredient in Chinese five-spice powder. In India, cloves are part of their famous spice blend called garam masala.

**Cloves are essential in mulled wine recipes as well as many other alcoholic beverages.


**Clove pairs well with these spices: Allspice, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cumin, Ginger, Nutmeg, Star Anise, Tamarind, and Turmeric.

**An important warning for cooking: if you add whole cloves to a dish, they should be removed before serving. Biting into a whole clove spoils the taste and can become choking hazards as well. A tip is to stud an onion with cloves and add to the dish, when the dish is finished, take the onion/cloves out in one heap.


**As is often the case, you should buy cloves whole (like these) and grind them yourself (with this). Once ground, cloves begin to lose their oils, which weakens their aroma.

**If left in whole form, cloves will remain fresh for at least one year, if kept in an airtight container away from light and heat.

**When purchasing cloves, look for cloves that are large in size. You should be able to recognize the four petals of the bud and the stamen inside them, which form a nail-like head. You do not want to buy cloves that look like little sticks because those are just stems. In addition, the color should be reddish-brown.


Illustration by Christy Beckwith

There you go! This is most of the information that I could find about cloves. Please click here for my introduction to my Spice Series.  Again, if you have any comments, questions, or extra information for me, please feel free to post in the comment section below!




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