Cloves are a sweet but strong spice with an intense flavour and aroma. Often used to add comfort to curries and savoury dishes, cloves are also used to season glazed ham, add flavour to hot drinks, and bring spicy warmth to cookies, cakes and gingerbread.
No one ever accused a whole clove, ground cloves or otherwise, of being subtle. And that bold flavour is exactly what we love about the clove. There’s nothing we find more comforting than breathing in the heady scent of a dreamy clove-spiced chai.
In fact, cloves have been conjuring up feelings of warmth and comfort for thousands of years - making this spice as timeless as it is memorable. Some of your fondest memories of clove might center around the holidays (what with gingerbread cookies and baked ham) but for us, cloves play a huge role in our cuisine, traditions and family gatherings - all year round.
Whole cloves are a wonderful addition to a cup of tea, but there is more to these cloves. Find out what memories, foods, and experiences you’ll encounter when incorporating this spice into your everyday life.
Believe it or not, cloves are actually flower buds. They have a warm, earthy aroma and a sweet yet spicy taste. The name for cloves is translated in many languages to some variation of “little nail” or “clove nail” because of their -- you guessed it -- nail like shape.
To get the whole cloves we know and love, we must first harvest them from a clove tree. These evergreen trees, also known as syzygium aromaticum, are native to Southeast Asia, and originated in the Molucca Islands in Indonesia. The clove buds are then dried for preservation.
According to UCLA, whole cloves were brought from the Spice Islands to China more than 2,000 years ago, making them a very old spice indeed. The spice has become quite widespread over the years, and flourishes in both India and Sri Lanka. In fact, Sri Lankan cloves are particularly prized, as they contain more essential oils than other varieties.
Whether you have whole cloves or ground cloves, there are so many amazing things you can do with them. Our favourite family trick? Put a couple whole cloves in the water when you make rice for some extra flavour. In addition, you could:
Cloves are used in everything from bechamel sauce to Chinese five-spice to our grandmas’ garam masala. They are a key spice in many of our favourite curries and biryanis.
When your palette is begging for a stronger spice than nutmeg or cinnamon, cloves come in handy. Just remember that a little bit goes a long way! Adding too many cloves to a dish can easily overpower every other flavour in the mix. It’s all about balance with this bold little beauty.
Cloves lend an intense aroma and pungent flavour to many of our favourite dishes, but a clove’s benefits extend far beyond just cooking.
Because of a clove’s natural antimicrobial properties, we were given cloves by our parents for anything from a toothache to an upset stomach. Cloves are also rich in manganese, which aids everything from bone development to wound healing.
Do you remember Windex in My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Well the clove is our Windex. Itchy? Bad breath? Have muscle cramps? Reach for the cloves.
Not only do cloves help physical wellbeing, they are also soothing to the soul. When used as aromatherapy - cloves can literally help you breathe easier. Simply boiling whole cloves on the kitchen stove can fill your whole home with an intoxicating perfume that is incredibly soothing.
If you don’t know how quickly you’ll go through your stock of cloves, we always recommend getting whole cloves. Whole cloves will retain their potency much longer than ground clove will. In addition, we recommend keeping your cloves in a cool, dry place to maximise their lifespan.
Each of our spices at Lord & Lion are carefully selected to represent the most authentic and traditional flavours from India and Sri Lanka. Our whole cloves in particular are selectively hand-picked and dried to preserve the best flavour.
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