Cloves are the aromatic flower buds of a tree in the family Myrtaceae, Syzygium aromaticum. They are native to the Maluku Islands (or Moluccas) in Indonesia, and are commonly used as a spice.
Cloves are available throughout the year due to different harvest seasons in different countries.
Cloves are actually the unopened flower buds of the clove tree, an evergreen plant indigenous to Indonesia.
Despite finding their way into historical usage all over the world from India to Europe, until modern times, clove trees grew only on “the Spice Islands‘ of Maluku.
The spice was thus expensive and highly sought after.
Cloves are the rich, brown, dried, unopened flower buds of Syzygium aromaticum, an evergreen tree in the myrtle family.
The name comes from the French “clou” meaning nail. Cloves come from Madagascar, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Cloves are used in spice cookies and cakes.
This valuable spice was indirectly responsible for the creation of the Indonesian nation, as the Dutch, English, Spanish and Portuguese all sought in turn to colonize Indonesia and dominate the clove trade.
While cloves are now grown in other countries as well, Indonesia remains one of the top producers of quality cloves.
This is fortunate as the kretek industry demands vast quantities of cloves each year, amounting to 95 percent of the world’s clove output to produce clove cigarettes (kretek).
Clove trees take at least five years to mature, after which they generate an annual crop. The buds are picked by hand in a labor-intensive process, then set out in the sun until perfectly dry.
The cloves will then be weighed, sold, and eventually shredded before being added to the master tobacco blend.
Found in both whole and ground forms, this versatile spice can be used to season pot roasts, add flavor to hot beverages, and bring spicy warmth to cookies and cakes.
You may know cloves as one of the main ingredients in gingerbread baked goods or a staple spice in Indian cuisine.
Cloves are best known as a sweet and aromatic spice, but they have also been used in traditional medicine.
In fact, animal studies have found that the compounds in cloves may have several health benefits, including supporting liver health and helping stabilize blood sugar levels.
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