Native to the Moluccas, introduced to China in 200 B.C., cloves are the dried unopened flower buds of a tropical evergreen tree. They are picked when they begin to turn red at the base and are dried in the sun.
Whole cloves are a must for studding hams, especially for the holidays.
Because cloves bring out the flavor of beef, add a whole clove to beef stew or a tiny pinch of ground cloves to gravy.
Cloves have an almost pungent aroma as well as a sweet and spicy flavor and are used in sweet spice blends for cakes and fruit, pickles, preserved meats and curries.
Clove oil is thought to support healthy respiratory function by loosening up congestion.
Cloves can be used topically and internally to treat pain, soothe aches and pains, and kill bacteria. Used to perfume the breath and as an antiseptic, cloves are also considered helpful in stimulating digestion.
Good quality cloves should be intact, uniform in size and shape, dark brown with a lighter brown top to the bud and have no pieces of stem. Ground cloves are commonly adulterated with clove stem, which does have high oil levels but more fiber and less flavor than the buds.
Herbie's Cloves contain only cloves!