Clove

  • Clove
  • Clove
  • Clove

Description

Cloves are the immature unopened flower buds of a tropical tree. When fresh, they are pink. When dried, they turn to a rust-brown color. Measuring 12-16 mm (1/2-5/8in) long, they resemble small nails, with a tapered stem. The large end of the clove is the four-pointed flower bud.

Uses

Cloves can easily overpower a dish, particularly when ground, so only a few need be used. Whole cloves are often used to stud hams and pork, pushing the tapered end into the meat like a nail. A studded onion is frequently used to impart an elusive character to courts-bouillons, stocks and soups. Cloves are often used to enhance the flavor of game, especially venison, wild boar and hare. They are used in a number of spice mixtures including ras el hanout, curry powders, mulling spices and pickling spices. Cloves also figure in the flavour of Worcestershire sauce. They enjoy much popularity in North Africa and the Middle East where they are generally used for meat dishes, though rice is often aromatized with a few cloves.

History

The word clove is from the Latin word for nail, clavus. The clove is native to the North Moluccas, the Spice Islands of Indonesia. It is cultivated in Brazil, the West Indies, Mauritius, Madagascar, India, Sri Lanka, Zanzibar and Pemba. The Chinese wrote of cloves as early as 400 BC. and there is a record from 200 BC of courtiers keeping cloves in their mouths to avoid offending the emperor while addressing him. Arab traders delivered cloves to the Romans.

Health Benefits

Folklore says that sucking on two whole Cloves without chewing or swallowing them helps to curb the desire for alcohol. Traditional Chinese physicians have long used cloves to treat indigestion, diarrhea, hernia, and ringworm, as well as athlete's foot and other fungal infections. India's traditional Ayurvedic healers have used Cloves since ancient times to treat respiratory and digestive ailments. The medieval German herbalists used cloves as part of anti-gout mixture. Early American Eclectic physicians used cloves to treat digestive complaints, and they added it to bitter herbal medicines to make them more palatable. They were also the first to extract clove oil from the herbal buds, which they used on the gums to relieve toothache. A few drops of the oil in water will stop vomiting, and an infusion will relieve nausea. Essential oil of clove is effective against strep, staph and pneumomocci bacterias.

Contemporary herbalists recommend cloves for digestive complaints and its oil for toothache. The primary chemical constituents include eugenol, caryophyllene, and tannins. Cloves are said to have a positive effect on stomach ulcers, vomiting, flatulence, and to stimulate the digestive system. It has powerful local antiseptic and mild anesthetic actions. Japanese researchers have discovered that like many spices, clove contains antioxidants. Antioxidants help prevent the cell damage that scientists believe eventually causes cancer. On the other hand, in laboratory tests, the chemical eugenol, has been found to be a weak tumor promoter, making clove one of many healing herbs with both pro- and anti-cancer effects. At this point, scientists aren't sure which way the balance tilts. Until they are, anyone with a history of cancer should not use medicinal amounts of clove.

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