Whole cloves offer a versatile spice that can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. Aromatic and rich in flavour, cloves are flower buds from the clove tree - Syzygium aromaticum. These warm, spicy, peppery buds contain manganese, vitamin C and K, magnesium, and calcium. Health benefits range from relieving tooth pain all the way to relieving nausea.
Wondering how to use whole cloves in cooking? Keep reading to get some tips on how to use these flavoursome buds to enhance your meals.
Whether added to baked goods, drinks such as Chai tea or home-made cider or meals such as curries, stews or meats, whole cloves pack a powerful punch. In fact, each tiny clove buds contains a great deal of flavour, meaning a little goes a long way. To get all the flavour without the bitterness, here are some ideas on how to use cloves.
Remove cloves before serving
Always make sure that you remove clove buds before serving. In addition to cloves having a strong flavour that can easily turn bitter if left in a dish too long, clove buds can also be a choking hazard that makes food very unpleasant to chew. Biting into hard cloves can result in an overwhelming flavour overload that can even leave you with a numb tongue. The word clove is derived from the Latin word for nail. With the pointy nail shape of the bud, this name is certainly apt. One way to enhance the flavour in savoury dishes without worrying about having to remove each bud is to stud an onion with cloves. This will give far more flavour than clove powder, with none of the choking risks. You could try studding an apple or orange in sweet dishes.
Use cloves sparingly
It’s also important not to overload your dish with cloves. The aromatic flavour is naturally strong, meaning that is should be used in small doses. The intense flavour can overwhelm other spices or flavours. Add clove near the end of cooking so that the cloves are not left in the dish too long. Always veer on the side of caution and add a small amount. You can always add a bit more if needed, without the risk of ruining the taste of the dish. It’s also worth doing some research to find out which spices pair well with clove. This will avoid any flavour clashes.
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