Like cinnamon, cloves are used
widely in both sweet and savory dishes. Cloves are a component
of many spice blends, including apple pie spice and Chinese
five-spice. Whole cloves are used in mulled beverages and
cooking liquids or pierced into stewed meats, particularly
hams. Ground cloves flavor rich savory sauces, rubbing blends
for meats, and sweet cakes and cookies.
Cloves have a very warm, pungent, sweet aroma, with a slightly
astringent quality. Oil of clove is prized for its antiseptic
qualities, and is often used in toothpaste and mouth washes.
It is also know to ease toothache.
The tree which produces cloves belongs to the myrtle family
and is native to the Indonesian archipelago, although it's
now grown predominantly in Zanzibar and Pemba, off the east
Buy cloves whole or ground. For best flavor, grind your own
from whole cloves, using the bud itself and discarding the
nail. Ground cloves should be purchased in small amounts,
as it loses flavor quickly.