The word 'clove' is from the Latin word for 'nail' - clavus. Cloves are the immature unopened flower buds of a tropical tree. When fresh, they are pink, dried, they turn to a rust-brown colour. Measuring 12-16 mm (1/2"-5/8") long, they resemble small nails, with a tapered stem. The large end of the clove is the four-pointed flower bud. Their flavour can be termed as sweetly pungent, astringent and strongly aromatic. Cloves were a very expensive and coveted spice.
How to select
This can be prepared by roasting the whole cloves and then crushing them into fine powder. A blender may be used for this purpose as cloves are hard to be ground into powder in mortar and pestle. Clove powder is used for marinades or stews or soups.
Cloves can be bought whole or in the ground form. Whole cloves are much more aromatic and flavoursome and if possible try to buy whole cloves as opposed to the ground powder. Whole cloves should be compact and free of any blemishes. Just like with other dried spices, when purchasing cloves, try to select that which is organically grown since this will give you more assurance that it has not been irradiated Culinary uses
" Cloves can easily overpower a dish, particularly when ground, so only a few need be used. Whole cloves are often used to "stud" vegetables, chicken or tofu, pushing the tapered end into thefood like a nail. A studded onion is frequently used to impart an elusive character to courts-bouillons, stocks and soups.
" Cloves are often used in a number of spice mixtures including garam masala, curry powders, mulling spices and pickling spices.
" Cloves also figure in the flavour of Worcestershire sauce.
" They enjoy much popularity in India, where they are generally used for rice dishes(pulavs , biryanis), here the rice is often aromatized with a few cloves.How to store
Cloves are best bought whole. As a powder flavour quickly deteriorates. Being extremely hard, it is difficult to grind cloves with a mortar and pestle so an electric grinder such as a coffee grinder is recommended. Store in an airtight container out of direct light.Health Benefits
" Indians have long used cloves to treat indigestion, diarrhea, hernia, and ringworm, as well as athlete's foot and other fungal infections.
" India's traditional Ayurvedic healers have used Cloves since ancient times to treat respiratory and digestive ailments and its oil for toothache.
" It has powerful local antiseptic and mild anesthetic actions
" When boiled with water and gargled, cloves are a good antibacterial mouthwash, which can help to combat bad breath and relieve a sore throat.
" Cloves are said to restore the appetite, which is good for people with eating disorders.
" Cloves are effective at clearing up a number of skin disorders such as acne, sores or ulcers.
" It has antioxidant properties, owing to the compound eugenol in it.
" Eating cloves is said to be aphrodisiac.