Have you heard of the Spice Islands? Have you ever heard the saying that while nutmeg should smell the sea, cloves should see the sea?
Well, yes, cloves grow where they feel good, where they are surrounded by the sea, so they grow in large quantities in Zanzibar, Madagascar, the Comoros and Sri Lanka as well. For centuries, there have been struggles for the right to grow cloves, and although it now has relatively stable production areas, the weather often does not spare the crop, and in such cases we can experience a significant rise in prices and deterioration of the quality due to the loss of crops.
A few years ago, in 2014, for example, the price of cloves was insanely high, along with the fact that only the worst quality, the so-called. Class CG3 was available. Last year it got better and the selective CG1quality is expected to be available again.
No matter the weather, cloves are harvested with such care so we won’t mind the price. The clove tree is huge, growing up to 12-15 meters, and at the end of the branches of this giant tree sit nestlings of clove flowers, hand-picked (climbing on the tree barefoot or on a bamboo ladder, carrying baskets on their backs) by locals and workers from neighboring islands.
Have you ever seen this unopened flower bud? They are beautiful, which have to be picked when, after green, they turn from light yellow to pink, but not yet red. Since this does not happen all at once on this huge tree, they have to climb these tall trees about three or four times to pick them all. The picked flowers are detached from the stem by hand and then spread out to dry in the sun when the flower bud acquires a reddish-brown or brownish-black color and ripens its scent. As a result, from 1 ton of flowers picked approx. 300 kg of whole cloves remain.
Due to its delicate scent, it is mainly used for foods where we can appreciate this scent, e.g. in confectionery and alcoholic beverages.
It is one of the ingredients of our mulled wine - spice mixes in its whole form, and for cooked spice mixes in ground form. It goes well with anything that contains apples and, like the creator of the Chinese five-spice mix, goes well with meat dishes along with other spices.
Store in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight.