If you’re lucky enough to have a clove tree in your yard, you can harvest and use your own cooking and medicinal spice. In the store you can buy whole or ground cloves, but if you have them right in your backyard, why not skip the store. Here are some ideas for what to do with your backyard cloves.
What are Cloves?
Clove tree uses range from basic gardening and landscaping uses to actually harvesting and cooking with your cloves. You can even use cloves medicinally. The clove tree, Syzgium aromaticum, is an evergreen tree that is native to south Asia. It requires a lot of water and warm temperatures.
The actual clove from the clove tree is the unopened bud of the flowers of the tree. They are harvested before they bloom and then are tried. They look like small nails and are hard but can be ground into a powder. Oil can also be extracted from cloves. Because of the high oil content, cloves need to be stored out of the light.
What to Do with Cloves in the Kitchen
The most common uses for cloves in the west are in cooking and holiday decorating. For instance, you can stud an orange with cloves at Christmas for a fragrant display. For cooking, you can use the whole cloves or ground cloves. When using whole cloves, you need to remove them from food before eating so that no one breaks a tooth.
A great use of whole cloves is in making mulled wine or spiced cider. Heat and mull red wine or cider in a pan on the stove with cloves, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, and allspice. Strain before drinking and you have a tasty, spicy seasonal drink. In foods, cloves taste great in pumpkin baked goods, molasses and gingerbread cookies, poached pears, and similar desserts. They also go well in meat dishes like honey-glazed ham or brined turkey.
Other uses for cloves are medicinal. Many of the medicinal uses for clove utilize clove oil, but whole cloves are often used to treat toothaches, simply by holding two or three in the mouth near the painful tooth. In addition to acting as an anesthetic, clove has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. Although evidence from studies is limited, clove oil is sometimes used to treat upset stomach and indigestion, acne, and wounds.
Clove tree uses are numerous, but it is also a lovely tree to have in the garden if you have the right conditions. Using the actual cloves from your tree is just a bonus.