Cloves are the aromatic flower buds of a tree in the family Myrtaceae, Syzygium aromaticum. They are native to the Maluku Islands (or Moluccas) in Indonesia, and are commonly used as a spice. The clove tree is an evergreen that grows up to 8–12 metres (26–39 ft) tall, with large leaves and crimson flowers grouped in terminal clusters. The flower buds initially have a pale hue, gradually turn green, then transition to a bright red when ready for harvest. Cloves are harvested at 1.5–2 centimetres (0.59–0.79 in) long, and consist of a long calyx that terminates in four spreading sepals, and four unopened petals that form a small central ball.
Both the taste and aroma of this spice are incredibly intense. The taste is pungent, strong and sweet with a bitter, astringent flavour as well. Cloves also have a distinct and undeniable warmth. Consuming this spice leaves a sensation in the mouth similar to that of nutmeg. In fact, the pairing of cloves and nutmeg in spice blends and in specific dishes is a popular one, as the flavours are somewhat similar and very complementary.
- Botanical Name: Syzygium aromaticum