Cloves…an all year round favorite, whole or ground, it is an essential. Whole cloves are the dried, unopened flower buds of an evergreen clove tree from the myrtle family. Originally from Indonesia, cloves were a much sought after spice centuries ago, but now are readily available. Used in Asian, Mexican, and European cooking, cloves have a warm sweet aromatic taste, but the flavor is also intense, so a little goes a long way. Only a couple of cloves are needed to infuse a beautiful flavor into curries, rice dishes, and fruit compotes. Ground cloves are an essential spice for me, using them in both savory and sweet dishes. I add a pinch to sauteed onions and garlic and serve it over grilled chicken thighs. Always an addition to pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, spice cookies, and apple pie. Whole cloves add a warmth to hot apple cider, a beautiful flavor studded in a ham, and my favorite, pierced in an onion and added to a bean soup. No scented candles are needed when you are cooking with cloves. Of course, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t let you in on the health benefits of cloves. Cloves have been widely used as a painkiller, especially for toothaches. It is also known to aid in digestion, boost the immune system, and protect the liver. The power of herbs and spices is amazing!