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Cloves Pairs Well with Red Wine

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Cloves, like many herbs and spices have a historical presence that dates to centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ. A ceramic vase containing cloves was found by archeologists in Syria and dates to approximately 1700 B.C. It has been written in ancient Chinese literature that during the third century B.C. that cloves were used to freshen the breath of visitors to the emperor of the Han Dynasty. Muslim sailors traded this spice during the Middle Ages. The trading of cloves is even mentioned in literature such as The Arabian Nights. Characters like Sinbad the Sailor bought and sold cloves from India.

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Until modern times cloves only grew in the Spice Islands. The oldest known clove tree is on Ternate, one of the Spice Islands. It is between 350 – 450 years old. Cloves were extremely valuable and traded like oil until cloves began to be grown outside of the Spice Islands. These trees mature between 25 and 40 feet tall. Most are found today in Madagascar, India, Indonesia, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, & Zanzibar. Clove trees are evergreen and have large leaves.

The Middle East, Africa, and Asia are the largest users of cloves. North America uses cloves, however, at a much smaller pace. They enhance the flavor of meats. Marinades gain flavor from this spice. Fruits like apples, pears, and rhubarb are especially improved with the use of cloves. Lemon and sugar when mixed with this spice can add zest to heated drinks. Americans probably use cloves the most in heated drinks and with ham. Our appreciation for this tangy spice would improve with some experimentation. We should add it to more fruits, meats, and marinades, like the rest of the world.

Cloves have much to offer your taste buds. Not only are they flavorful but they pair well with red wine, cinnamon, onion, peppercorns, vanilla, allspice, & basil. There you have it! Everything you always wanted to know about cloves but were afraid to ask.

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