The clove spice is the dried flower of a tropical evergreen tree native to the Molucca Islands (aka The Spice Islands) in Indonesia.
The Clove Tree
Cloves are the flowers of a medium-sized tree that can only survive in a tropical climate. It requires rich, well-drained soil and is relatively easy to grow from seed if all the necessary conditions are met. The tree has large leaves and clusters of flowers form at the end of the branches. The flower buds turn from white to green to pink and are harvested just before they open and spread in the sun to dry. This turns them dark brown.
History and Folklore
The name “clove” comes from the French word for “nail”.
Cloves were historically traded from the Spice Islands by ancient Romans and Chinese. The Chinese chewed cloves to freshen their breath.
Along with nutmeg, cloves were among the most sought after spices of the age of European exploration. Many atrocities were committed in their name. The Dutch wanted a monopoly on the clove trade so they destroyed clove trees wherever they found them growing outside the territory they controlled. This did not make them popular with the locals who had a tradition of planting clove trees in honor of the birth of their children. Eventually, competitors were able to establish successful groves of clove trees in other areas, including Brazil, Zanzibar, Madagascar, and Tanzania. This took some of the pressure off of the Molucca Islands.
Healing with Cloves
Clove oil helps stimulate circulation to the skin. It can be added to warming massage oils and dabbed on acne to encourage healing.
Use clove buds in a tea to improve digestion, prevent and relieve flatulence and relieve nausea and diarrhea. It is also lovely steeped in milk, wine or juice with a cinnamon stick for these purposes.
Test a drop of clove oil on the inside of your elbow to ensure you are not sensitive to it.
Cooking with Cloves
Cloves can be added whole to many dishes. Traditionally, they are used as a mulling spice, they are steeped in warm wine, milk, juice or cider in combination with other herbs to make a complex and delicious warm beverage. Cloves are also used to stud a ham and lend their warm flavor it its saltiness.
But cloves can be used in many other ways. They can be added to stocks, fruit pies, and tea blends. They can be ground and mixed into baked goods.
Cloves are part of many spice mix including Chinese Five Spice Powder, Garam Masala, Curry Powder, Ras el Hanout and Worchestershire sauce.
It is best to buy whole cloves and grind them just before use for the best flavor or use them whole and cook them slowly to infuse the flavor and remove them before serving. The flavor of cloves is very strong, so it’s best to use them sparingly.
Magickal Correspondences of Cloves
Used in magick to attract good luck and prosperity, to keep good friends close, and to help stop malicious gossip. Burn to prevent people from spreading rumors about you or push the cloves into a red candle and burn that.
To keep friendships strong, make each friend a cloth bag with seven cloves inside. Wear always.
Cloves can be added to money drawing and good luck mojo bags for gamblers and clove oil can be added to oils for a similar purpose.
Cloves have been used as an aphrodisiac. Simply infuse cloves into wine or apple cider to enjoy its effects.
Other Uses for Cloves
2Cloves can be mixed with tobacco and rolled into a cigarette for a tasty and satisfying smoke. In Indonesia, this is called a kretek. This word describes the crackling sound of burning cloves. Many American cigarettes are clove flavored using clove oil, but a true kretek includes the actual herb.
A pomander of oranges studded with cloves has been traditionally used to repel moths from closets. Clove oil can also be added to other insect repelling concoctions to protect against mosquitoes and ants.
Cloves can be used to freshen the breath and is used in mouthwashes and gums to this effect.