Cloves are the aromatic flower buds of a tree in the family Myrtaceae, Syzygium aromaticum. They are native to the Maluku Islands in Indonesia, and are commonly used as a spice. Cloves are commercially harvested primarily in Indonesia, India, Madagascar, Zanzibar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.
Native to the tiny volcanic islands of Moluccas (now part of Indonesia) today the major exporters are Madagascar, Zanzibar, Pemba and Tanzania. Cloves are the unopened buds of the clove tree and right before these buds blossom they turn a brilliant pink. This is the ideal time to harvest them as they are at their peak aroma and flavor. Each clove tree yields about a 7 pound harvest. Clove buds show in small clusters several times a year, from November to January and July to September. During the drying process they turn from a pink/ reddish color to a dark brown.
Cloves are quite popular in North Africa cuisine where they are used in spice blends to flavor rice or meat dishes. Throughout Asia they are popular in curries. Whole cloves also have a strong reputation for use in pickling and mulling. Cloves are a key ingredient in Chinese Five Spice, Garam Masala, Pumpkin Pie Spice and Quatre Epices. In Mexican cuisine, cloves are frequently paired with cinnamon (in Mexico this would be canela of ceylon cinnamon) and cumin.
In this country whole cloves are most commonly used to stud ham or pork roast while ground cloves are most often found in cakes, custards, pies and liqueurs. While we often think of them partnered most frequently with cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg in sweet dishes they are also gaining quite a reputation with discerning home chefs in savory dishes when combined with sage and pepper. They're also a wonderful secret ingredient when using a clove or two in slow cooked beef stock, sauces and stews.
Cloves go well with apples, beets, carrots, chocolate, ham, onions, oranges, pork, squash and sweet potatoes.
Cloves works well in combination with allspice, bay, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, fennel, ginger, mace and nutmeg.
The flavor of cloves is bitter, hot, rich and a little sultry with hints of fruitiness while the aroma is strong with undertones of camphor and pepper.
Cloves are one of the more pungent spices and their intensity can even be enough to "burn" your taste buds unless blended with other spices. Even when used with other spices cloves should be used sparingly as they will easily overpower any dish.
If you are looking for a clove powder to whole clove substitute use 1 whole clove to 1/4 tsp of clove powder.
We also carry a top quality Ground Clove.
One of our favorite recipes using cloves is the Masala Chai beverage.
Serving Size1 tsp
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*