Bittersweet cloves (Photo: iStock) 

The nail-like spices you see at the spice shops are known as cloves. The word clove was coined from the Latin word clavus, which means nail.

Cloves belong to the Myrtaceae family and are classified as aromatic flower buds. They have a strong, pungent aroma and a bitter taste with some sweetness.

These nail-shaped flower buds are harvested from the clove tree. They are pink in colour and turn brown when dried.

There are several varieties of cloves, defined by the country where they are cultivated. Some popular varieties include Indonesian, Zanzibar, and Indian cloves.

Cloves are mainly used as spices. They are added to dishes like pilau or used to make soup, stews, baked goods, and marinades.

They are a nutritional powerhouse as they contain nutrients such as manganese, vitamin K, vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium. They also possess antimicrobial properties and may help support digestive health.


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