Spice Profile: Cloves

What are Cloves?

Cloves are the dried, unopened flower buds of a member of the myrtle tree family. These trees can grow to a height of 30 – 40 feet in Madagascar, Brazil and Zanzibar. They can live for a century or
more and can actively produce cloves for approximately 80 years. Though productivity varies with tree age, a mature tree can yield up to 75 pounds of dried cloves per year. It takes between 4,000 and 7,000 buds to make one pound of dried cloves.
Buds grow in small bunches on branch tips and are harvested just before blossoming. When the buds have turned in color from green to yellow to light pink, they are picked and immediately dried. The drying process produces the dark brown whole clove as we know it consisting of the stem and the bulb. In this form, the clove seems to resemble a small nail. It is this resemblance that originally named the spice; clove is actually derived from the Latin word clavus, meaning nail.

What are cloves used for today?

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Cloves are considered to be the most fragrant of all aromatic spices and therefore are typically used at very low levels in seasoning blends. It is a common ingredient in bakery blends such as pumpkin pie spice as well as prepared seasoned meats such as bologna, ham, spiced luncheon loaves and some sausages.

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