Another type of spice that is also frequently used in cooking is cloves. Cloves are used in various cuisines, and particularly in Indian and Asian cooking. The forms of cloves, both dry and whole are used in the same way as most spices are known for, most of the time depending on the type of cuisine and aroma that most chefs and cooks would require when it comes to enhancing their various dishes. Cloves also have other uses besides a seasoning in cooking. Some parts of Asia use cloves as a type of cigarette known as Kretek, some use cloves as an aroma therapy additive and some people also make use of cloves for the aromatic benefits to help freshen breath through chocolate bars and such. Toothaches are also another reliant remedy that cloves provide, providing the necessary soothing relief for such painful occurrences. Clove can also be transformed into oil like compound, the product of which is used in aroma therapy, another key use that was mentioned earlier on for health conservative individuals. Also, cloves are also used as cleansing compounds for microscopy procedures.
History of Cloves
Cloves can be traced to the native land of the Molucca Islands, Indonesia. These spices have been in existence and are being used for quite some time. In ancient history, being known to have a very good aromatic smell, cloves were used by early people, like the Chinese so that they will have appealing breath upon meeting with the emperors of their times. Cloves were a rare commodity in these early years, this commodity was believed to be a key spice that most countries fought over in the early days, each wanting to supply enough for their own. Wars were fought in Europe and with native islanders to secure rights to the profitable Clove business.
For the natives of Molucca Islands, they practiced a tradition of planting one clove tree every time a newly born baby was introduced to the world. They had closely associated the life of the child to the tree and it was believed that the fate of the infant was in close relation to the fate of the clove plant. At one point in the early times, the Dutch destroyed Clove trees by burning them down and raised the value of uprooted clove plants prices. This caused the local folks to revolt during the early times something that was pretty evident considering the importance and value of the clove in the early years as among the more rare herbs and spices that people were looking for. The demand for such an herb early on was so significant that most countries wanted to harvest their own and keep supplies to themselves to answer the great demand and need for it back then.
Known Uses of Cloves
There are quite a number of uses that cloves provide towards people both in the medical and normal aspect of lives. Such uses include the following:
- Toothache complaints
- Indigestion Relief
- Diarrhea Control
- Fast Healing of Wounds
- Control Vomiting
- Cure Acne Issues
- Headache Reliever
- Sexual Stimulant
- Fever Reduction
Normally, the average person would only think of spices and food enhancement as the immediate use of cloves. In some countries like India and China, their belief and continued search for herbal cure towards various illnesses and health issues have expanded the use of such an herb. As enumerated above, no one would really know unless the proper medical physician would inform them that such an herb possesses quite a number of health aiding attributes.
While cloves have been clearly identified to provide health curing benefits, the need to also identify reactions that such herbs would have if partnered with other drugs or health supplements should be taken into consideration. It is clear that conflicts as far as combining the various elements that each herb would have may provide more critical health problems than solving them. Here are some issues:
- It is believed that the use of cloves inhibits platelet aggregation by decreasing platelets. Probable increased bleeding may occur if such conflicts of interests are not ruled out.
- Blood sugar levels vary, and while some people may have delicate issues regarding this matter, it would be best to request for a physicianís approval and blessing.
Processing Cloves Plants
Clove trees are evergreens which can grow up to as much as 20 feet tall. Its stem is often forked with two or three main trunks. Warm and humid climate are recommended for the plant to thrive with deep loam soil containing high humus content, best for cultivating the said plant.
Flower bloom twice annually, and are harvested once unopened buds change from green to a yellow pinkish coloring. The buds can be harvested by hand although it is cautioned not to immediately over pick some buds to avoid reduction in numbers.
Buds are usually detached from the plantís stalks which are dried separately. It is recommended to try the very quickly so as to prevent fermenting. Ideally, these are done in the sun on mats and would usually take 4-5 days during which time they are raked over for even coloring. By the end of the drying process, the cloves have become brittle and dark brown.
Selection and Storage of Cloves
It is recommended for anyone to buy whole cloves over clove powder since the latter loses its nutrients faster. Squeezed properly, quality cloves will release some of their quality oil extracts. To properly select quality and nutrient containing cloves, placing them over water and choosing the floating ones will be the leaves with the more quality herbs. The ones which sink are the ones which have already lost their essence and may not provide the expected nutrients.
People in search for quality clove herbs should not limit themselves towards the nearby supermarkets only. Certain stores, some giving due features on quality herbs like cloves may just be better over the latter. The preference to select organically grown clove herbs is advisable since this will provide more assurance that the herbs are more authentic and fine.
For proper storage, cloves should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container under the proper temperature levels. Assuming this is done, ground cloves are expected to last for about six months while whole cloves will stay fresh for about one year if this proper storage procedure is practiced. Storing them in refrigerators as well is a good way to preserve their freshness.
Where to Buy Cloves
Spice Place offers the following clove products:
Durkee Ground Cloves
McCormick Whole Cloves
Looking for Recipes Using Cloves?
We've collected up a select set of Recipes using Cloves