Thursday, 15 September 2016

Herbs, Spices and Herbalists – part 3: Cloves …



Seeing as we’re nearing Autumn … with plenty of apples to be found … there are many herbs or spices I could choose from … but the clove came to mind – the aromatic flower bud that in fact I’d associate with Christmas – oranges stuck with cloves for a perfumed pomander ball, bread sauce made with a clove studded onion, or pierced into the baking ham …


Roast Pork with apple sauce


… or at this time of year apple sauce with cloves … delicious with roast pork, or cold sliced pork …


Clove bud flowering







The evergreen tree of the myrtle family is native to the Spice Islands and the Philippines, but now is grown elsewhere … Sumatra, West Indies, Sri Lanka, India and even Brazil. 





Mauritius - centre of air travel ...
as it was a stopping off point for those
early discoverers or seafarers

Pierre Poivre (1719 – 1786) was a French horticulturalist, who worked as a missionary in China and Vietnam … who is remembered for introducing the clove and nutmeg plants to Mauritius and Reunion.  





Very early Oil of Cloves
bottle found in Coventry



The Persians, Arabians and Egyptians spread these little aromatic buds around the Mediterranean ports … until in 1511 the Portuguese discovered the plants for themselves … the Dutch soon gained monopoly of the trade.  However in 1797 Sir Joseph Banks introduced the clove to Britain.





It seems the oldest medicinal use was in China where it was reported that they were used for various ailments as early as 240 BC.  A Chinese leader in the Han Dynasty required those who addressed him to chew cloves to freshen their breath.

Bread Sauce with cloves - (they
need to be removed before eating)

More recently archaeologists have found cloves in a ceramic vessel in Syria, with evidence that dates the find to about 1720BC. 



Medicinally however cloves are used for flatulence, for most liver, stomach ailments, as a stimulant for nerves - amongst other 'sufferances'.  Clove oil is a tried and trusted friend for troublesome toothaches.  Each culture has its own uses for the clove …




Dried Cloves

As I mentioned for culinary purposes many a dish is not complete without the addition of these highly scented little brown ‘nails’ (cloves) derived from the Latin clavus.







Pickling Spices with cloves centre stage



Marinades, curries, pickles – all use cloves … while in Pickwick Papers, Dickens describes a mulled claret and clove-scented punch as being part of the traditional Christmas fare.





Almost ready for picking and drying

The dry, unopened flower bud can be used to flavour a wide variety of sweet and savoury dishes …. used whole or ground to impart a strong sweet but spicy and peppery flavour – which does need to be used in moderation to avoid over seasoning.


The Moluccas - Spice Islands
situated in South East Asia - forming an
archipelago within Indonesia



So those ‘nails’ from the Moluccas (Spice Islands) give fragrance to so many recipes – far too many to write about … while offering healing remedies for anyone interested in traditional routes … 




Ham studded with cloves


It's a little early for Apple Day (often 21st October) ... but the fruits are nearly ripe (especially here in the south) ... and so I look forward to a few delicious meals using cloves ... 





Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

61 comments:

Anabel Marsh said...

I like using them for Indian cookery too - not the spicy ones but something mild like saag aloo (spinach and potato). Ground with cardamoms they make the dish deliciously aromatic.

Elephant's Child said...

I had a culinary disaster with cloves many years ago. A cake batter called for a cinnamon sugar misture. And I replaced a tablespoon of ground cinnamon with a tablespoon of ground cloves. Totally inedible.
That said, I do love the smell and still use it often. Carefully.

Lynn said...

Fascinating to find out how they were discovered. Amazing, really.

A Heron's View said...

A very interesting topic Hilary. Did you know that Clove Oil is also known as the poachers friend for it brings the fish to the surface, where they can be scooped out and bagged.

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

Fascinating, Hilary (as usual!). I have always loved cloves and they do, of course, have an association with Christmas. And they ARE lovely with apple. But clearly, from reading your erudite piece above, I need to eat more of them!

Keith's Ramblings said...

Nearly time for the annual Apple festival at Middle Farm, Firle - thanks for reminding me! Lots of interesting facts as ever. Excellent.

Africa - Kruger to the Falls - Linky

Mason Canyon said...

There's just something about the scent of cloves that speaks to holidays. For some reason the first thing I think of when I hear cloves is wassail. As useful as it is I'm not sure why we don't use it more year around. Great information, Hilary. Thanks!

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Liza said...

Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg...autumn, warming hand by the fire, mulled cider, apple pie. Thank you for conjuring up lovely images.

Elsie Amata said...

My mom used to make Christmas cookies in the shape of little tiny balls and in the center she placed one clove in each one. They were so yummy! (We took the clove out before we ate it!)

Fil said...

Great information Hilary. I love cloves - I use them in cooking white basmati rice - a great foolproof Jamie Oliver recipe that brings it up perfectly every time - 1 cup of rice (for 2 people), 2 cups of water, a dash of salt, a wee glug of olive oil and 2 cloves. Cover, boil for 7 minutes, turn off heat but keep covered and leave for another 7 minutes, or longer, and then fluff up with a fork - perfect every time.
Enjoy the sunshine. Fil

Out on the prairie said...

A unique spice, one I always have around to cook with

Bish Denham said...

Of course it would be the Dutch who got the monopoly on cloves! Such a lot of interesting facts. I like putting a clove in my hot tea...

Betsy Brock said...

Those cloves buds are beautiful! I've never seen them in that state before...how lovely!
We love pork with apples and it's a delicious winter meal...real comfort food. yum.
I bought our first fall apples this week. Honey Crisp is our favorite. So delicious!

Hart Johnson said...

I love the smell of them. When I was much younger I occasionally would smoke a clove cigarette (never smoked the regular sort, but those left a good taste on my lips). Anymore I don't cook with them really, but I do love them to mull wine or spice cider.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

We probably have it on the shelf, I just don't recall my wife ever using them.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Anabel – thanks for that tip ... I don’t usually cook Indian food … but the idea of using them with ground cardamoms does sound delicious.

@ EC – oh I’ve done that … put too much in and ruined a baklava – really not very nice! Yes they have that wonderful fresh scent … and am glad you’re still using them: carefully, as you say.

@ Lynn – how we discovered so much of our food is such a fascinating subject …

@ Mel – I certainly didn’t know about clove oil being the poacher’s friend – that’s really interesting … I shall ask some friends who fish …

@ Mike – thanks … I do love them with things, particularly bread sauce for some reason. But I’ll be using some with apples shortly … yes: they have medicinal benefits – the tooth benefit is the one I know about …

@ Keith – I’ve been down to Firle once for the Apple festival … we got some cider made – well started off … smashed down. I’ll go up to Sharnfolds, at Stone Cross they always have lots of apples …

@ Mason – wassailing to my mind occurs in very early Spring … but I see it’s mid January – when the apple trees are blessed for the coming year. It’s an Anglo-Saxon tradition that’s been absorbed through the years …

It’s quite a strong spice … and is used but probably within a mixed spice ingredient … to which ground cloves can be added – so you wouldn’t know it was an ingredient as such … it’s in most pudding recipes – and for you pumpkin pie spice …

@ Liza – absolutely all good warming spices … by the fire with Christmas Cake type aromas around … and that mulled cider or apple pie with a cup of tea … delighted you enjoyed the post …

@ Elsie – I remember those too – not the same as your mother’s but just that homely aroma wafting around our home. Those little cookies sound yummy! I’m glad you took the clove out – an essential removal.

@ Fil – this is great … another recipe or idea – thanks for the details … they’ll be useful: Jamie Oliver certainly knows how to cook … Sunshine is about gone now!

@ Steve – it is a unique spice and so useful so often … and I think most baker’s have it around … good for you …

@ Bish – oh yes: the Dutch getting there first … but the Brits did swap the spice islands for New York …. that’s what’s so extraordinary. Putting a clove into tea is a great idea – I’ll give it a go …

@ Betsy – I agree I had to put the photo up with the green buds still on the tree ready for drying. Pork and apple sauce is as you say so delicious – comfort food, definitely …

I must get out to our farm shop and see what they’ve got on offer … I’ll stew some up for winter; and want to get some tomatoes and onions to do the same … stocking up at harvest time ... then freeze the results …

@ Hart – I agree a home with Christmas scents is so delicious. I’ve never heard of clove cigarettes – interesting and I can imagine the left-over taste. I don’t smoke either. I don’t do much cooking … but if I do – I try and do it properly … while mulled wine or cider goes down a treat!

@ Alex – I suspect you’ll have a packet of them on your shelf … I wonder if your wife has used them: I’m sure she would have done …

Cheers to you all – and thanks for all the tips and tricks … fascinating additions to the post … Hilary

Rhodesia said...

We use cloves a lot but never too strong. In fact we always cook with a lot of herbs and spices and pretty much no salt. I have some great spice and herb racks that must be almost antique, they come from a country that does not even exist anymore, Rhodesia :-) They must be at least 50 years old now and are well travelled. Take care Diane

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Popping a clove in my mouth as a breath freshener is something I've done for years. Then it softens up and I chew it. The other way I use cloves are in pork roast slow-cooked to make Southern BBQ. Herbs are wonderful!

H.R. Sinclair, Southpaw said...

Apples and autumn are a perfect combo. I like cloves too, but just a pinch.

Jacqui Murray said...

Such great information, Hilary. My other WIP includes a primitive tribe making medicinal remedies with natural plants. Your posts are going to be helpful.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

During the Age of Exploration, cloves were practically considered treasure after the discovery of the Spice Islands. Europeans wanted cloves to disguise the taste of spoiled meat.

Yuck, huh?

diedre Knight said...

Oh this is interesting! So that's what those little 'nails' were in the Christmas ham (grin). I can't think of nutmeg without also thinking of holidays, and happiness and warmth. Spice Islands is such a pleasant-sounding name. I do declare I learn something every time I visit - today it was the word archipelago and the fact that olive oil is good for toothaches - thank you, Hilary!

Deborah Barker said...

An interesting read Hilary and how on earth do you find all this out? Surely you are not cooking all those delicious looking meals and photographing them? Ha ha! I know you research everything so well and I hang on every word. I look forward to having a kitchen again, one in which I can cook...with or without cloves :-)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Diane – yes I can imagine you produce wonderful dishes utilising spices and herbs. Herb racks … how brilliant that you’ve kept your Rhodesian spice racks and kept them with you through continent changes. I used a book rack – screwed to the wall … helped me out … but it didn’t have memories!

@ Karen – what a good idea … I hadn’t thought of that: I’ll give that clove-chewing tip a go sometime soon … but your pork Southern BBQ sounds delicious. I know you love cooking …

@ Holly – Apples and Autumn as you say a perfect duo …

@ Jacqui- that’s great … glad my blog helps others with theirs …

@ Dianne – sometimes we don’t say why we use some of the spices. I can quite believe our ancestors used whatever they could to disguise some tastes … yuck as you say!!

@ Diedre – I know: ‘little nails’ that we need to make sure we extricate before eating. I love nutmeg, positively love it!

Archipelago is a fun word isn’t it … but the olive would be put out to find it had a reputation for curing toothaches … I’m sure you meant clove oil?!

@ Debbie – oh I look in various books, use my nowse (didn’t know that was way it was spelt!) … and no I am not cooking all those meals – I have to cheat sadly, as I’d like to cook them.

Your new kitchen sounds lots of fun – and with that table will be an amazing gathering place … I envy you! Thanks for your support …

Isn’t it great when we get so much interaction from you all – I love it and learn new things … even taught myself something – through the use of the word ‘nowse’! Thank you and cheers Hilary

Kathleen Valentine said...

I love the taste and the scent of cloves. I remember a clove-flavored gum that I loved as a kid. I used to make pomanders by pressing cloves into oranges and hanging them in the closet. They made everything smell so good!!!

helen tilston said...

Hello Hilary,
A wonderful subject and the mention of cloves brings to mind that wonderful fragrance which reminds one of celebratory times.
I have learned about cloves for which I thank you.
I hope life is treating you well and that you are enjoying Autumnal days

Helen xx

Joanne said...

I love the thought of fall and the aroma of cloves. You always make my mouth water from your posts. (Then again, it's still hot in TX....fall is NOT around the corner here)

Jo said...

I was shocked to discover that over on this side of the pond, cloves are seldom used for apple pies etc. they use cinnamon instead. Having been brought up with cloves, it just doesn't seem right without them. Of course my bread sauce always has an onion stuck with cloves which I sweat in the milk for hours.

Liz A. said...

I've never been terribly fond of cloves. I'm weird, I know.

Robert Bennett said...

I definitely have a love/hate relationship with cloves. I literally either despise them or love them entirely dependent on the dish that they're part of.

Botanist said...

Aah, yes, mulled wine bubbling on the stove with an orange floating in it studded with cloves. And I always throw a few cloves into the rice when I cook a curry.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Kathleen – I never use gum … so am not aware of the clove-flavoured one … but makes sense. We used to make pomanders too and they smelled so wonderful …

@ Helen – what a surprise … good to see you. Cloves and celebratory Autumn – yes definitely that makes sense. Our first day of non-summer has come upon us today – it’s still warm, but is cooler and overcast … still seasons come along!

@ Joanne – I’m not keen on all the cold which follows on … and yes Texas does stay hot doesn’t it … but your Autumn will be along – that I can guarantee you!

@ Jo – looking at life from this side of the pond I can see the use of cinnamon … it’s a softer and more general spice – yet cloves give a bit of body to the apples, ham, onion sauce etc etc - that’s the way to make bread sauce … and ideal to do on an Aga …

@ Liz – no you’re not weird … they do have a strong flavour …

@ Robert – that’s probably true for most of us … as long as there’s not too much clove – then all is well …

@ Ian – yes, mulled wine with that clove studded orange bubbling away … another blogger who uses cloves in rice – I’ve never tried that or come across it before … I will give it a go.

Cheers to you all – today is gloomy, dank and definitely not bright and sunny – though still relatively warm. Looks like Autumn is on its way … thanks for visiting - Hilary

Gattina said...

Interesting post ! In some meals they are very good and also in hot red wine !

bazza said...

Hi Hilary. I am slightly confused. Is a clove the dried bud of a Myrtle Tree or of any of a variety of trees (or are they the berries?)? I know that a clove of garlic is a segment of the bulb but this is different.....isn't it?
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s fabulous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Gattina ... as you say cloves are good in a variety of dishes and drinks ...

@ Bazza - cloves are the aromatic flower buds of a tree in the family Myrtaceae - per Wiki. I hope that clarifies it.

The flower buds initially have a pale hue, gradually turn green, then transition to a bright red when ready to harvest. They are picked just before opening and dried ... in the sun.

Hope that answers that query, Bazza.

Cheers to you both from a wet south coast ... Hilary

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Cloves, both whole and crushed, have always been staples in my pantry, but you're right: this is the time of year they get used the most. If cooler weather every arrives, (and I'm sure it will) I look forward to warmed ciders and teas spiced with cloves.

Interesting that a man named Poivre is attributed with discovering cloves and nutmeg. With a name like that, you'd think he might have discovered various types of pepper. :)

Mark Noce said...

Autumn is the best time of year, just the smell in the air...and in the kitchen is glorious:)

Julie Flanders said...

Nothing better than the smell of clove - now I've got Christmas on my brain. And I can't wait for the cooler weather to arrive as Autumn is far and away my favorite time of year.
Happy weekend! :)

Morgan said...

Mmmmmmm.... I'm hugging this post!!!!! Autumn. Autumn. Everywhere. Love this, Hilary. Love reading all the info you always provide. Love being educated!

beste barki said...

I don't use cloves Hilary. Maybe I should try them one of these days.

DMS said...

I love clove and I have clove essential oils. Such great pictures to go with the post. So many interesting facts and tidbits. Thanks for sharing. :)
~Jess

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Susan - I usually only whole cloves and mixed spice ... today is definitely the start of clove day = colder than it's been! I'm going to try tea with clove. I know I found it a coincidence that a man called Poivre apparently discovered cloves and nutmeg ... and not pepper apparently ...

@ Mark - yes the smell of damp earth, with nutty overtones .. and kitchen glories - so true ...

@ Julie - I shouldn't really be bringing on the Christmas season too early should I - but cloves came to mind ... I shall hold Christmas scents at the ready for later on ...

@ Morgan - how lovely to see you ... that's great - thanks for enjoying and being here ...

@ Beste - I expect you do use cloves, but in mixed spice. Used in a bread sauce, or an apple sauce with pork, or studded into a ham .. always so good ... or chew them as Karen suggested, or in tea ...

@ Jess - clove essential oils - wonderful scents. So glad the post came alive with the photos - I can't match your wonderful artwork on your blog!

Cheers to you all - Autumn turned up yesterday ... chillier now - but not cold yet ... thanks for your visits - Hilary

Deborah Weber said...

Loved seeing this post Hilary - and all the comments of how people use/enjoy cloves. I was just saying to someone the other day that I thought cloves had gone out of fashion - no one seems to be using them much. Clearly I was wrong, and I'm glad about that. I enjoy the very fragrant botanicals - star anise is also a favorite.

I also love that we've moved into apple season. My local CSA box (community supported agriculture - not sure if you have such a thing where you're at Hilary) does a special sampler box of a large variety of locally grown apples, and every year I find a new favorite to love.

TexWisGirl said...

i see them used here in hams at thanksgiving, but i'm not certain i like their flavor.

LD Masterson said...

Clove studded ham at Christmas. Makes my mouth water just to think of it.

Sai Charan said...

Enjoyed reading this post Hilary!! :) I enjoy the flavour they bring to dishes :)

Cheers,
Sai :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Debbie - I know lots of comments from readers with other ideas and thoughts. I think those who cook will use cloves, or in a spice mix, but so many people seem to be buying ready meals now. I've never used star anise - but mostly because I usually cooked Mediterranean type meals ... but in South Africa I could have used it for the Malay foods ...

I'm sure we have a sampler box delivery here ... I don't get those as I get too much for one person: I tried a vegetable and fruit delivery box for a while - but just couldn't cope with all goodies in them: one stomach is enough! But they are great ideas. I'll go to the farm shop this week for some apples, plums, tomatoes and onions ... to make some sauces or fruit stews ...

Cox's, Bramleys and Egremont Russet (a Sussex cultivar) ... but they're all good!

@ Theresa - cloves can give a strong flavour ... but add that extra bite to some strong flavoured dishes - however I can understand your sentiments re the clove ... I hope you enjoy the Thanksgiving ham ... don't eat the nails!

@ LD - yes clove studded ham is a culinary delight to behold. I think bread sauce with cloves is my favourite!

@ Sai - thank you ...

Cheers to you all - I'm loving all the comments - Hilary

Theresa Milstein said...

Yum, cloves. I know I've used them in some Indian dishes. What an interesting history they've had!

Vallypee said...

I love the diversity of this post, Hilary. So many good things in herbs and spices. I too love cloves. My mum used to put them in any kind od stewed fruit. Yum!

Vagabonde said...

I think cloves have such a distinctive scent. I like clove in hot cider in the fall, but also in baked apple cakes and many other sweets. That was a very interesting post.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Theresa - it is certainly a versatile spice ... while their history is fascinating ...

@ Val - many thanks ... so much to talk about - and then the memories of those home recipes from our youth ... I can smell them now!

@ Vagabonde - they are a strong spice ... but used wisely add to certain dishes. Clove in hot drinks ... cider, mulled wine give off that aroma. Baked apple and other fruit sweet dishes ... glad you enjoyed the post ...

Cheers Hilary

jabblog said...

I love cloves - just the smell alone is enough to make my mouth water.

Christine Rains said...

I had no idea cloves were used in so much. I remember around Thanksgiving and Christmas, people put cloves into oranges and let the fragrance permeate their homes. Not a smell I ever enjoyed, but many do! Have a lovely week. :)

Crystal Collier said...

I find eastern medicine truly fascinating. We've only started into more natural remedies in the last 3 or so years (because let's face it, who can afford the doctors office or rediculous and harmful perscriptions?), but cloves... We regularly cruise down to the Bahamas, and you can get so many fresh spices there.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I love everything about cloves, especially on a winter day with the logs burning in the fireplace, and my favourite blanket wrapped around my legs, and... it was difficult to get past that wonderful image of roast pork with apple sauce. Brings back memories.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I always have cloves in my spice cabinet. I have some favorite cookies I use them in and of course in Pumpkin pies. My daughter has some clove-scented soap in the shower right now and I smell every day. Mmmm.

cleemckenzie said...

All you have to do is mention cloves and I can smell them. They add such a special flavor to the holiday season. Yikes! that's just around the corner. I need to check my clove supply.

Thanks Hilary. As usual I learned a lot today.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Hillary - Oh, I love applesauce! I've used cloves on baked ham, as well as in potpourri mixes. Fun post. I hope you'll cover other herbs and spices.

Karen Lange said...

What is it about your posts that often make me hungry? :) lol This is interesting stuff. Spices, cloves in particular as we head into fall, just make the season even more delightful. I can almost smell them now...So glad you enlightened us. Thank you! Have a great week!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Janice – those Christmas smells when we’re making cakes, or mincemeat … do just invade our senses in that mouth-watering way, like you I love them …

@ Christine – lots of uses and I didn’t list them all. I’m glad you remember the Christmas oranges … but if you don’t like that fragrance I can see your lack of interest – sorry about that!

@ Crystal – that’s good you are both utilising more natural remedies – and yes health is an expensive item. How wonderful to be able to ‘cruise down to the Bahamas’ and pick up some spices! One day I shall try that …

@ Joylene – they do have that wonderful winter connection don’t they … aromas from the kitchen and that warming mug to hand – the roast bubbling away in the oven – a bit much to think about at 7.00 am!

@ Susan – most cooks have cloves around. Pumpkin pie is a favourite in the States … your cookies sound interesting … I’m guessing you use ground clove for them. Actually I bet that clove soap does give off wonderful aromas … I can smell it now!

@ Lee – I think many of us have that ‘nose’ when cloves are mentioned. And yes ... clove season coming up … equinox on Thursday – then we’ll really see the start of the Autumnal season.

@ Susan – I too love apple sauce, or apple stew – I must get out to the farm shop to get some … cloves are just an essential for some foods. And potpourri … and yes this my 3rd spice, herb, etc post … so the series will run …

@ Karen – sorry! But food always entices … and yet brings so much history with it. Fall season or Autumn here is just about with us – the Equinox on Thursday starts that cycle more obviously for us …

Cheers and thanks everyone – we will be into Thanksgiving and Christmas before we’ve had time to turn round … cheers and take care - Hilary

mail4rosey said...

I spilled cloves on accident one time and vacuumed them up. Every time I ran the vacuum for quite some time after, it smelled so good!!