Cloves are the immature unopened flower buds of a tropical tree. When fresh they are pink dried they turn to a rust brown colour. Measuring 12-16 mm long they resemble small nils with a tapered stem. The large end of the clove is the four pointed flower bud. Cloves are best bought whole. As a powder its flavour quickly deteriorates. Being extremely hard it is difficult to grind cloves with a mortar and pestle hence an electric grinder is recommended. Store the spice in an airtight container out of direct light. As they can easily overpower a dish particularly when ground only a few need be used.
Traditional Chinese physicians use cloves to treat indigestion diarrhoea hernia ringworm and athlete’s foot. India’s Ayurvedic healers have used cloves since ancient times to treat respiratory and digestive ailments. Clove oil is often used to relieve tooth aches.Essential oil of clove is effective against strep and staph bacteria. It is a powerful local antiseptic with a mild anaesthetic action. Cloves are also called as the natural pain killers.