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Syzygium aromaticum
Syzygium aromaticum
Did you know that… ?
  1. …cloves are picked as unripe, red or green unopened buds, because in that state, they have the greatest amount of aromatic substances?
  2. …the name of this spice comes from the Latin "clavus", meaning nail, probably due to its shape?
  3. …during the hot summer months, cloves pressed into a lemon make a good mosquito repellent in the home?
  4. …clove oil is used in dentistry as an analgesic and an ingredient in dental prostheses?
  5. …the tree Eugenia caryophyllata grows up to 15 meters and from its 6th through 60th year of life can bear up to 3 kg of fruit per year?
  6. …clove buds are still harvested manually and dried in the sun?
  7. …cloves and clove powder can be stored in an airtight container, in a cool, dark location for 2-3 years?
  8. …cloves as a spice are unopened flower buds of the tropical tree Syzygium aromaticum and are used dried, whole or as a powder?
  9. …clove quality can be verified by the "float test"? If the quality is good, the cloves will float head up and stem down, maybe even sink. If they lay flat on the water, their quality is low.

Baked ham with cloves

1.5 kg whole ham
3 tablespoons fine brown sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons milk of apple juice
Several whole cloves

In a bowl mix sugar, mustard and milk or apple juice. Remove skin and fat from ham, leave a 1 cm layer, which is cut into a diamond pattern. Spread the mixture onto the ham and stick whole cloves into the grooves of the diamond pattern in the ham. Place ham into low baking dish and bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes. During the baking, baste the ham often and watch carefully to be sure the surface doesn't burn. The ham is served hot, with mustard and baked potatoes, or cold with spiced fruit, chutney or salad.


When in 1629 the Dutch occupied the Maluku Islands, where cloves originate, they instituted a strict regimen due to the cloves. In order to control the trade and prevent smuggling, they destroyed all plantations on the islands. Only the Amboina Island group was excepted, since it was under Dutch control. But in spite of their best efforts, the attempt to monopolize the clove trade was sabotaged. In 1769, the French governor of Mauritius visited his colleague on Amboina, and smuggled out some ripe clove seeds in the hollow soles of his boots. Immediately after his departure, trickery was suspected and the Dutch sent two ships to catch the French sailing vessel. Despite coming under fire, the French successfully landed on the shore of Mauritius. In the following years, clove plantations were established on several other French islands.