Cloves, Syzygium aromaticum, are the aromatic dried flower buds of a tree in the family Myrtaceae. Cloves are native to Indonesia and used as a spice in cuisines all over the world. The clove tree is an evergreen that grows to a height ranging from 8–12 meters, having large square leaves and sanguine flowers in numerous groups of terminal clusters. The flower buds are at first of a pale color and gradually become green, after which they develop into a bright red, when they are ready for collecting. Cloves are harvested when 1.5–2 cm long, and consist of a long calyx, terminating in four spreading sepals, and four unopened petals which form a small ball in the center. Until modern times, cloves grew only on a few islands in the Maluku Islands (historically called the Spice Islands), including Bacan, Makian, Moti, Ternate, and Tidore. Nevertheless, they found their way west to the Middle East and Europe well before the first century AD. Archeologists found cloves within a ceramic vessel in Syria along with evidence dating the find to within a few years of 1721 BC.
Cloves can be used in cooking either whole or in a ground form, but as they are extremely strong, they are used sparingly. Dried cloves are also a key ingredient in Indian masala chai, spiced tea. Try adding Whole Cloves to spice cider and teas, flavor a seafood boil, use in pickling recipes, wine poached peaches, and even in exotic rice pilaf recipes.