Cloves are dried flower buds of the clove tree , which are harvested before they open. The tree is a member of the myrtle family and is native to the Indonesian Moluccan Islands.
Indonesia consumes about 50% of the world production of cloves where the cloves are combined with tobacco to make kretek cigarettes.
The world’s leading producer of cloves is the island of Pemba in Tanzania about 50 kilometres off the east African coast.
The name Cloves derives from the French clou which means nail. The earliest references to Cloves can be found in literature from the Han period in China under the name chicken tongue spice. Beginning in the 8th Century, cloves became one of the major spices in European trading.
This tropical evergreen tree “must always see the sea” in order to thrive. Cloves were rather expensive and played an important role in world commerce history. Wars were waged to secure exclusive rights to the highly profitable clove business. In the Moluccas, where Cloves were first found, parens traditionally planted a Clove tree whenever a new child was born.
Cloves are an important inclusion in the spice blends from Sri Lanka and Northern India. They are used in garam masala, biryanis, and some pickle recipes. In the United States cloves are commonly used in meats, salad dressings, and desserts. Clove is one key flavour component of ketchup and Worcestershire sauce seasoning mixes. Chinese and German seasonings also depend on cloves to flavor meat dishes as well as cookies.