aromaticum (L.) Merr. And Perry (Syn. Eugenia caryophyllus)
small, reddish-brown flower bud of the tropical evergreen tree Syzygium
aromaticum of the family Myrtaceae, was important in the earliest
spice trade and believed in indigenous to the Moluccas or Spice Islands
(now Maluka), of Indonesia. The people of the Moluccas used to plant
a clove tree to celebrate the birth of a child and would wear a necklace
of cloves as a protection from evil spirit and illness. Strong in
aroma and hot and pungent in taste, cloves are used to flavour many
foods, particularly meats and bakery products; in Europe and the USA
the spice is a characteristic flavouring in Christmas holiday fare,
such as wassail and mincemeat. The name clove is believed to be derived
from the French word clou meaning nail due to the appearance of this
spice. As early as 200 BC, envoys from Java to the Han-dynasty court
of China brought cloves that were customarily held in the mouth to
perfume the breath during audiences with the emperor. During the late
Middle ages, cloves were used in Europe to preserve, flavour, and
garnish food. Clove cultivation was almost entirely confined to Indonesia,
and in the early 17th century the Dutch eradicated cloves on all islands
except Amboina and Ternate in order to create scarcity and sustain
high prices. In the latter half of the 18th century the French smuggled
cloves from the East Indies to Indian Ocean islands and the New World,
breaking the Dutch monopoly.
clove tree is an evergreen that grows to about 8 to 12 m in height.
Its gland-dotted leaves are small, simple and opposite. The trees
are usually propagated from seeds that are planted in shaded areas.
Flowering begins about the fifth year; a tree may annually yield up
to 75 pounds (34 kg) of dried buds. The buds, just before the flowers
open, are hand-picked in late summer and again in winter and are then
sun-dried. The island of Zanzibar, which is part of Tanzania, is the
world's largest producer of cloves. Madagascar and Indonesia are smaller
producers. Cloves vary in length from about 1/2 to 3/4 inch (13 to
contain 14 to 20 percent essential oil, the principal component of
which is the aromatic oil eugenol (70 - 90%). Cloves are strongly
pungent owing to eugenol, which is extracted by distillation to yield
oil of cloves. Three essential oils are available from this spice:
clove bud oil, clove stem oil and clove leaf oil. Each has different
chemical composition and flavour. Clove bud oil, the most expensive
and the best quality product, contains eugenol (80 - 90%), eugenol
acetate (15%) and beta caryophyllene (5 - 12%).
are ingredients in many classic spice mixtures. Whole cloves are frequently
used to flavour cooking liquids for simmering fish, poultry, game
and meat. They feature in classic sauces and are used in the bakery
industry and the processed meats industry as a ground spice.
and other use
clove oil is used to prepare microscopic slides for viewing and is
also a local anesthetic for toothaches. It is a strong antiseptic
and preservative. It is used to treat flatulence, colic, indigestion
and nausea. Eugenol is used in germicides, perfumes and mouthwashes,
in the synthesis of vanillin, and as a sweetener or intensifier.