On Cloves

I use a lot of cloves. I prefer to purchase them whole, as they do lose their flavor and pungency quickly once ground.

Cloves are little fragile dried flowers on stems. Commercial spice milling plants can grind the whole things to a fine powder. A cook can spend a good while and crush them to a gritty dust, but not much further than that without real dedication. Being so pungent, this can cause coarser particles of material to create unbalanced flavors in a dish.

I have found two solutions for this issue, which are conditional on the requirements and type of dish being made.

I remove the delicate flower heads, crush them, and use them alone. The flavor is herbal, floral, and light, rather than medicinal. This works remarkably well for refined and delicate dishes.

For bolder flavors in simmered dishes, I frequently stick the clove stems, without the flower heads, into an onion, chunk of ginger, garlic clove, tea ball, (empty) tea bag, or other holder. I can then easily remove them from the pot after they have done their job, without risking someone getting hurt on one.

4 Replies to “On Cloves”

    1. When you have to hammer at something long enough and it still doesn’t work, you have to find a tool that’s not a hammer. I got annoyed.
      Thanks =)

  1. Herb and spice bouquets bundled in cheese cloth are such a godsend for soups and stews at times. As well as making things easy to remove from dishes they work well keeping things out of dishes. A little cheese cloth over a citrus fruit halved keeps the seeds with the fruit as you juice it into your dish. I will however have to break out the Mortar and pestle and try just the clove flowers sounds interesting.

    1. I use tea balls a fair bit, as well. So many recipes don’t define the method of input, but when they say to crush it well, I yell for the serfs. The cats look at me funny, I shrug, and start pounding.
      Fortunately, I did recently get a mortar and pestle that actually *can* do the job! So I am using whole crushed cloves in more places. The flowers are delicate and lovely, so I use them in places like Poudre Douce.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *