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Cloves are the unopened flower buds of the Syzgium aromaticum. As the name suggests, this is a tree that is highly aromatic. The name clove meanwhile comes from the French word ‘clou’, which translates roughly to ‘nail’.
Cloves are found in Madagascar, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. They are originally native to the Molucca Islands however, which are today a part of Indoesia. They have been used in cooking for thousands of years, with some of the earliest references describing how the Chinese would use cloves to sweeten their breaths when approaching the emperor.
Cloves were at one time extremely expensive. In fact, wars have been fought over them! And to think you have them sitting in your kitchen right now in your spice racks, none the wiser! They are commonly used in making cigarettes!
Cloves Use in Cooking Today
Cloves are commonly used for baking and are used to add spice to cookies and cakes. For example, they can be used to add additional spice to gingerbread, they are often added to applesauce, and they can be used in muffins.
The best way to learn how to use any spice in fact, is always to try cooking something with it! To that end, let’s see how you would make a muffin and then add spice with cloves. Grab your baking tools and your apron, and let’s get to it!
For this one, you will need:
- 2 eggs
- 125ml vegetable oil
- 250ml milk
- 250g caster sugar
- 400g self-raising flour
- A pinch of salt
Beat the two eggs, add the oil and the milk. Continue beating and then add the sugar and whisk once combined. The result is a smooth batter. Using whisks can help.
Add the self-raising flour and a pinch of salt and continue to mix until smooth once again. A flour sifter can help here.
Now you’re going to add your flavors! To make a sweet, spicy muffin, try adding vanilla, cinnamon, and cloves. You can also optionally add a little food coloring if you want to make your muffins really stand out. Throw in the oven and leave to bake for 20 minutes on 200C – use on a warming tray. Remove carefully with a spatula.
When you eat these muffins you’ll instantly notice the warm and spicy smell that comes from them. Cut them open with a bread slicer to let that aroma fill the room! If you want, you can use a pastry brush to add a sheen with some egg white.
Tips for using Cloves
When using cloves, you should always store them in cool, dark, and dry places.
Did you know that you can also add cloves to drinks? A good example is a nice warm cider which is a perfect pick-me-up if you’ve gone for a walk in colder weather.
And guess what: cloves also have a number of health benefits and can even be used in a bunch of home remedies – including as a cure for toothache!
As you can see then, cloves are a great option to keep around for a variety of meals.
While you’re here, be sure to check out our kitchen product reviews!