This strongly aromatic spice gets its name from the word French clou, meaning ‘nail’. One look at a clove is enough to explain the name.
Originally, cloves grew only in the Maluku islands of the Indonesian archipelago, and four-fifths of the world’s cloves still come from Indonesia, though most of the crop is used in the manufacture of kretek cigarettes. Cloves now also grow in Africa, South Asia and Sri Lanka.
This strongly-flavoured spice is very popular in Middle Eastern and North African cuisine and forms a key ingredient in that traditional English condiment, Worcestershire sauce.
Everyone knows that cloves are the ideal remedy for a toothache, but Ayurvedic physicians also use clove tea to treat muscle weakness and inflammation, while Chinese herbalists recommend cloves for morning sickness. However you use them, don’t forget that a few cloves go a very long way!