Spice Profile: Clove

It seems like the only time I think of cloves is during Autumn.  In truth this spice can be harvested year round and and is most commonly found growing in places like Indonesia and India.  We all know clove as one of the spices that defines our colloquial meaning of the word “spicy”.  This is especially true when describing a fragrance.  Often times things that smell “spicy” have heavy notes of clove and cardamom.  Despite its many uses as a digestive aid and natural toothache remedy (It just occurred to me this is why it is in so many old toothpaste reciepes), I think it is the smell of clove in the Autumn and Winter that brings me the most joy.  I have put together a couple great ways to enjoy the spicy aroma of cloves this holiday season.

Cleaning Products, yes cleaning products with a great citrus clove scent. These are holiday only limited edition products from Mrs Meyers so grab them while you can.

Pomanders! Image from Martha Stewart

Pomanders are a great easy craft that you can do while watching a movie or even use as a nice holiday craft for little ones. Just make sure you have firm oranges before you start. I recommend using a toothpick to pre-poke your holes for your cloves. There are a few different methods to how many cloves to use. If you intend to make your pomanders last (and they can, for years even) then you will want to cover as much of the orange as possible and treat the finished pomander in a curing spice mixture of cinnamon, ground glove and orris root. The pomander will take up to a month in this mixture to dry out. If you are hoping to make your pomander a little closer to the day of display and are okay with potentially having to discard them then you are free to use the cloves in a more decorative fashion. I like striping the oranges personally.

dried cloves, from wikipedia

Finally and my personal favorite use for cloves during this time of year is to make spiced cider. There are plenty of “Mulling Spice” mixes available for sale but why pay money for someone else to decide how your cider should taste? Use nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice to mull the cider. Take orange peel and stud it with cloves. Once the cider has been heated add the peel and let it simmer. Not only will this fill the house with the most delicious aroma but you can also use the peel as a garnish for the cider. With this method you will need to strain the cider into your mug. Add some rum and a pat of butter for a hot buttered rum cocktail that will keep you warm all winter.

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