What are Ground Cloves?
Cloves are available in two forms: whole and ground cloves. They are essentially the dried flower buds of a clove tree and are known by the technical name, Syzygium aromaticum.
Commonly used in food as well as in traditional medicine, cloves are equally sweet in taste as they are healthy, and they might even be potentially lifesaving. Scientists have approved cloves to be used in cancer and diabetes prevention, in addition to being great for oral health and improving bad breath.
How to Cook with Ground Cloves…
When prepared the right way, ground cloves offer a nice aromatic addition to any meal. That said, they need to be used sparingly. You can easily overwhelm the flavor profile of your dishes if you aren’t careful, but using them in small amounts can enhance your dishes in a nice way. Here are some of the best ideas for integrating cloves into your cooking process:
- Use as Garnish: like many spices, cloves can function great as a garnish. One of its most common dishes to accompany is ham.
- Cold Weather Treats: during fall and winter, cloves make for a tasty additive in mulled cider. They also work well in treats like pumpkin pie or oatmeal.
- Anything with Pickles: the sweet, spicy taste of ground cloves means they act as a key piece of flavoring in condiments. This includes things like pickled vegetables, green beans, and just regular pickles.
History Behind Ground Cloves
Cloves have been used for thousands of years. They are native to the Molucca Islands (colloquially known as the Spice Islands), which are a part of modern-day Indonesia, however they were believed to be used originally by the Chinese. As the ancient story goes, the Chinese people would place cloves in their mouths prior to speaking to their emperor during the third century BCE. He made it a requirement for freshening their breath.
They were also traded by sailors throughout the Middle Ages in the famous Indian Ocean trade. By the 17th century, the Dutch East India Company began regulating the spice trade and prioritized cloves as one of their chief trade items. Despite their best efforts to create a monopoly effect, cloves could never be fully controlled since they grew in such abundance throughout the Moluccas.
Growing Ground Cloves
Clove trees stand between 25-35ft in height, and are grown exclusively in humid climates. If you’d like to try growing them in North America, or somewhere else that’s far away from the equator, your best bet might be to place them in an artificial, terrarium-like environment.
The germination process is lengthy, and seedlings are quite delicate. Don’t expect them to be ready for nearly six months. Clove trees require lots of water throughout the year and they must be in a relatively stable environment—meaning little to no wind is preferred. Mature trees can sometimes collapse and die from being too dry.
Over the six month period, clove flower buds will transition from green to pinkish in color. After they are picked they must be sun dried for a period of four or five days.
Once they are harvested, you can ground them into a powder or even extract oil from them.
Where Do Our Ground Cloves Come From?
Okay, time for our origin story. As it turns out, we get our cloves from the island of Madagascar—about 740 miles away from Mozambique in Africa.
It’s a fascinating story actually. Clove trees were introduced to Madagascar from Indonesia in the 19th century. There was uncertainty at the time as to whether they would successfully grow there.
Not only did they pan out, but cloves have since become one of Madagascar’s biggest exports. The team who’s helping us harvest each year is one of the very best in the world. Without help from the hardworking men and women on these farms, our clove supply would not be as strong as it is. They find us the best spices every time!
Many of the trees we get our cloves from can produce as many as 75 pounds of dried cloves in a year, if all goes well. Some of these trees can potentially live longer than 300 years.
Harvesting is arduous work. Without the help of so many talented individuals at these plantations, we wouldn’t be able to bring the power of ground cloves to your doorstep.