Cloves are unopened flower buds from the clove tree, harvested and dried when they are pink-red, before flowering. Their strong flavor oils are stored primarily in the round head of the clove bud, but are also found throughout the stalk which contains oil glands as well. Cloves' predominant flavor compound is eugenol, which makes cloves not only intensely aromatic, but also warm and pungent in taste. Though this aromatic oil can also be found in allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon, there's such an abundance of it in cloves that eugenol is also called "clove oil."
Cloves can be found in a wide variety of cuisine from Asia to Africa and from the Middle East to India. The spice adds aroma to winter-weather hot beverages; warm astringency to meats and marinades; and a lightly sweet pungent spice to fruits. Clove spice is intense and so its strength requires sparing use.
1.5 oz (43 g) per 1/2 cup
Whole cloves have also been used to craft traditional pomander ornaments: Christmas oranges studded with cloves. They are both pretty and their long-lasting scent adds to a festive feeling. In Victorian England gifting such a pomander was a sign of warmth.
The clove trade was so intense that in 1667, the British ceded the Spice Islands to the Dutch in trade for the Dutch settlement on the island of Manhattan, then known as New Amsterdam.