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The Spice trail – The Mighty Clove

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Cloves are piquant astringent, pungent and of sweet fragrance and have a warming effect, as such should rarely be used in summer season. They are used mainly in rice, curries, garam masala recipes, hot soups, teas, pickles and in powder form, are sprinkled on preserves, drinks and puddings.

The medicinal benefit of cloves

As well as being rich in minerals such as Calcium, iron, sodium, potassium, vitamin A + C; Cloves contain a chemical called ‘eugenol’ that inhibits the growth of the bacteria thus making them a natural antibiotic and germ killer.

Although many find the taste to be strong, a little known fact, Clove oil is active ingredients in a number of everyday products such as throat sprays, soaps and cleaners because of its antibiotic properties. Raw or roasted clove will relieve even a nasty and hawking cough.

The most prominent and best known use of clove oil is in dental care. The germicidal properties of the oil Eugenol make it very effective for relieving dental pain, tooth ache, sore gums and mouth ulcers. Gargles with diluted clove oil help in easing the throat. The characteristic smell of clove oil helps removing bad breath. As a result, clove oil is added to numerous dental products tooth pastes. Dentists also mix clove oil with zinc oxide and prepare a white filling material as a temporary alternative to root canal. In India cloves are wrapped in betel leaves and chewed to act as a double agent for toothache and as a mouth refresher, some may know this to be Paan.

As a home remedy for toothache you could drop a little clove juice into the dental cavity to numb the nerve endings and bring down pain or even chew the cloves as such for the same effect, a little hot in the mouth but very effective for tooth or gum inflammation.

On this point now you may think I exaggerate but really, I grew up having warm clove oil dropped in my ear for earache – and trust me, it works! I use the same remedies for my children.

In culinary uses Cloves are often used in rice to provide a gentle heat instead of using a more direct heat source such as chillies or black peppercorn and its antibacterial properties acts as a useful agent to almost sanitize the high risks associated with rice if left out at ambient temperatures. In kitchery (better known as kedgeree) cloves are used to provide a healing property to a dish which is effectively very moist rice.
In curries cloves radiate a warm and active heat whilst the anti microbial properties of a clove assist in the natural cleansing of the gut; helping to sanitize any lurking parasites in meats etc..

As if the above hadn’t earned enough stripes Clove oil is aphrodisiac in nature and hence serves as an excellent stress reliever. It has a stimulating effect on the mind and removes mental exhaustion and fatigue. When taken in sufficient amounts, it refreshes the mind. Clove oil also induces sleep and is helpful to insomnia patients. It is useful for treating mental problems such as loss of memory, depression and anxiety.
Such a mighty pack for a bud so small, wouldn’t you say!
For more information on uses of cloves for medicinal values contact kumud Gandhi at The Cooking Academy, www.thecookingacademy.co.uk

Kumud Gandhi is a writer and broadcaster and founder of The Cooking Academy – a cookery school that puts ingredients at the heart of everything they teach. They specialise in teaching Pan Asian, Indian and Middle Eastern cookery as well as teaching the essence of everyday British & European dishes to children and teenagers to get them started on their food journey in life.

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