Cloves are the dried, unopened, nail-shaped flower buds of the evergreen Syzygium aromaticum. They are reddish-brown in color and have a strong, aromatic flavor and aroma. Historically, Cloves originating from Madagascar have been considered superior.
Clove oil is considered by some to be one of the most powerful germicidal agents in the herbal kingdom. It's antiseptic, antibacterial properties help in the treatment of diarrhea and food poisoning by killing many types of bacteria, including pseudomonas aeruginosa, shigella (all species), streptococci, staphylococci bacteria. All of which may be involved in food poisoningÂ as well as pneumonocci bacteria. Its disinfectant properties make it a fine mouthwash, breath freshener and toothpaste ingredient. Cloves are said to be anti parasitic, and its antimicrobial properties destroy intestinal parasites, thus supporting its traditional use by the Chinese in treating intestinal worms.
Cloves are an important ingredient in the spice blends of Sri Lanka and North India. They are used in garam masala, biryanis, and pickles. In the U.S., cloves are used in meats, salad dressings, and desserts. Clove is a key flavor contributor to ketchup and Worcestershire sauce seasoning blends. Chinese & German seasonings also depend on Cloves to flavor meats and cookies.
The name Cloves comes from the French "clou", meaning nail. The first references to Cloves are found in Oriental literature in the Han period in China under the name "chicken-tongue spice". From the 8th Century on, Cloves became one of the major spices in European commerce. When the Clove forests were first discovered in Indonesia, all were enchanted with the fragrance and beauty of this tropical evergreen tree which "must always see the sea" in order to thrive. Cloves were extremely costly and played an important part in world history. Wars were fought to secure exclusive rights to the profitable Clove business.