Cloves are the unopened / immature dried flower of a tree in the myrtle family that is native to the Maluku Islands in Indonesia.
Today Cloves are commercially grown in many places around the Indian Ocean.
The name comes from the latin for nail - since they sort of look like nails.
Species: Syzygium aromaticum
Plant Family: Myrtle
Cloves are often paired with cinnamon or nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, citrus peel, star anise or peppercorns
They are a component in both sweet and savoury spice blends, and can be found in any number of desserts: think eggnog or pumpkin pie spice.
They are a key component of Indian cooking
An onion studded with cloves is frequently used to impart incredible character to courts-bouillons, stocks and soups.
They are used in a number of spice mixtures like: ras el hanout, curry powders, Chinese 5 spice, mulling spices for wine and pickling spices.
Cloves are very strong and a very small amount is needed in cooking
Cloves are best bought whole and ground as needed. Once ground the flavour quickly deteriorates, so buying pr-ground is not advised. Whole cloves should be stored in an airtight container out of direct light.