The flavorful herb, known as cloves, is obtained from the Syzygium aromaticum tree from the Myrtaceae family.
It is native to the "Spice Islands", a name given to the Maluku Islands, a part of Indonesia. Today, plantations of this spice can be found in Madagascar, Zanzibar, India, the Caribbean Islands and other areas.
The evergreen clove tree can reach a towering 65.6 ft (20 m) in height. The large leaves accompany the blooming blazing red flowers. Once the colorful buds, initially light, gradually become bright red, they are ready for picking.
Despite the remoteness of the native habitat of cloves, the spice has been known for thousands of years in Europe and the Near East. There, it is most commonly used in confectioneries, while it enjoys a wider use in other parts of the world.
This charming spice is perhaps the most widely used in the world. In India, it is a main spice for Mongolian cuisine.
It is part of the ingredients of the Northern version of the exotic spice garam masala. In Mexican cuisine, cloves are most often used in combination with cinnamon and cumin, especially for flavoring mole sauces.
All in all, the culinary use of cloves is entirely dependent on the geographic area. Often it is used to flavor bird and other meats, as well as baked fish.
But one of the most unparalleled uses of cloves is in Ethiopia. There, when preparing coffee, the coffee seeds are roasted along with cloves and cardamom immediately before preparing the drink. Besides in coffee, cloves are added to other warm beverages, such as mulled wine.
Cloves are put into certain types of mixed pickles. Some of the most famous spices in the world also contain cloves - Indian curries, Worcestershire sauce, Chinese five-spice powder and others. Cloves can be added to Christmas cookies too.