WHAT ARE CLOVES?
Originally from Indonesia, this spice is popular both in savory and sweet recipes. The crimson flower buds of a clove evergreen tree are dried and ground into a powder. In some French recipes, instead of grinding the buds their hard, sharp stalks are used to pierce a whole onion or fresh fruit (called a pomander). This is an easy and quick way to remove all this spice from a stew that you can’t strain. With a strong, peppery flavor that blends well with flavor mixes, it’s often associated with the winter holidays. Popular companion spices are nutmeg, cinnamon and /or cumin. However cloves are by far the strongest of the bunch, so be careful not to add too much. And if left too long while cooking they’ll overpower the other flavors. Even plastic is a concern with cloves as the oils exuded can start to break it down.
WHY ARE CLOVES GOOD FOR YOU?
They have long been used as a home remedy due to the presence of eugenol. This anti-inflammatory agent also acts to relieve pain. And this spice works as a disinfectant as well!
WHEN ARE CLOVES IN SEASON?
They’re grown throughout the tropical world now, and are not limited to any one season (as far as your local store is concerned). It takes almost 2 decades for a clove tree to be ready for harvest. However the buds need to be harvested before they open in the late spring.
HOW SHOULD CLOVES BE STORED?
Store out of direct sunlight in a dry place at room temperature and avoid moisture.
IS THIS HERB MORE POPULAR TO SMOKE THAN MARIJUANA?
The famous Indonesian cigarette isn’t just named after this spice, over 1/3 of what you’re smoking are actually dried cloves (and the rest is tobacco). Also known as kreteks, they’re much stronger than American cigarettes. For smokers not used to this stronger alternative, the presence of eugenol can temporarily disguise their harshness while smoking (though by the next day you’ll know). However while kreteks are the most widely smoked substance in Indonesia, in the rest of the world they are relatively unknown.