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The cloves, as we know them, derive from the evergreen plant called Eugenia caryophyllata belonging to the Myrtaceae family, more commonly called a carnation tree. The spice is obtained by drying the pink flower buds, which turn brown after drying. The plant from which the cloves are derived is native to Indonesia and has been cultivated in plantations for over 2000 years.
Cloves constitute a large part of Zanzibar's commercial exports, although it is now grown in almost all tropical areas of the world.
In addition to being known for its healing properties, in India and China they were widely used to fight bad breath. Even the emperor used it for this purpose, chewing them regularly. In ancient times, the Persian people trusted in the aphrodisiac qualities of this spice.
The cloves should not be confused with the peppered pepper that is actually the allspice.
The main element contained in the cloves is a propenylphenol called eugenol. This substance represents eighty percent of the essential oil and is responsible for the particular aroma of the spice. The same substance is that which gives the spice its antiseptic and anesthetic properties.
Thanks to the discreet presence of beta caryophyllene, cloves are also a natural anti-inflammatory.
Cloves have local anesthetic and analgesic properties. In less recent times, in case of toothache, a clove to be crushed was applied to the affected point to relieve pain. A natural remedy for toothache.
Even today, cloves enter the composition of many oral disinfectants, it is included in the recipes of many toothpastes and antibacterial products for the mouth, it is a valuable aid for the hygiene of oral cavities in general.
Thanks to their high content of flavonoids, cloves are also known for their high anti-inflammatory effect.
In aromatherapy cloves are widely used to alleviate conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism, colds, bronchitis, asthma and sinusitis.
Cloves still have antiseptic and antispasmodic properties.
Even the digestive tract benefits from the use of this spice, which promotes the passage of food into the intestine, without causing an accumulation of harmful toxins for the entire organism.
In the case of acute toothache, we can relieve pain by placing a drop of clove oil directly on the painful area. To alleviate rheumatic pains, we can massage the affected area with olive oil to which we have added a few drops of clove oil.
To alleviate the effects of inflammation of the oral cavity, we can make rinses or gargles with a solution of water and essence of cloves.
An aid against lack of appetite or digestive problems can be brought about by the administration of the tincture of cloves.
Finally, the spice is also used to fight fungal infections of the skin and mucous membranes.
Use in the kitchen
The cloves are widely used in the kitchen, both for the preparation of sweet recipes and for savory preparations. The aroma is warm, with a slight peppery hint, the scent is strong and flowery.
Cloves are often used to flavor classic type roasts. They go very well with meat in general, also excellent for flavoring various types of stews and to accompany game marinades, chicken or chicken broths. they can be used to flavor some types of aged cheeses and go perfectly with vegetables such as onions, onions, carrots. They are also used to flavor preserved vegetables, for example in vinegar.
In sweet preparations, cloves find use in flavoring cooked fruit-based preparations, for flavoring the classic mulled wine and as an ingredient in fruit and honey-based desserts, such as the classic apple, pandolci and gingerbread cake. We can find them in recipes for biscuits, creams and fillings, aromatic liqueurs and wine. They are also used to flavor tea, infusions and herbal teas, hot and invigorating drinks to drink especially in winter.
Both the taste and the aroma of cloves are very strong, a very small quantity will suffice to flavor the dishes and it is good not to overdo it if we do not want to cover the flavor of the food.
Cloves: Other uses
The scent of cloves, very intense and very special makes it an ingredient appreciated and used also in the cosmetic industry. The essential oil that is obtained, intense, pungent fruity and warm tones, becomes part of the components of many perfumes and other beauty products.
A curiosity, in Indonesia cloves are used to produce aromatic cigarettes with a very particular taste.
Cloves also have the very useful effect of keeping away certain types of insects. To put some of them in the pantry, will serve to keep away the typical butterflies that form in the food, especially in spring. Similarly, some ground cloves, placed in a small bag, will be very useful in the closet, not only to perfume the environment, but also and above all to keep moths away from clothes.