December 07, 2022 · Written by Foodtolive Team

Cloves – The Ultimate Holiday Spice!

Cloves – The Ultimate Holiday Spice!

Benefits, Uses, Side Effects, and Recipes

*Products mentioned in this article do not cure or prevent any diseases.

Native to the Spice Islands and the Moluccas, cloves are typically grown in tropical climates: Brazil, West Indies, Jamaica, and India. The clove tree is an evergreen plant that reaches up to 30 feet in height and presents with long leaves and white flowers. Those sweet, exotic, and fragrant flowers of the clove tree belong to the Myrtle family. Cloves were used in cooking for many years, but most recently scientists have begun studying their potential health benefits.


Cloves – The Ultimate Holiday Spice!

Cloves: Nutrition Value

Cloves contain many useful components like Potassium, Sodium, Phosphorus, Iron, Manganese, Dietary Fiber, Iodine, Vitamins K and C, Omega-3 fatty acids, Calcium, and Magnesium.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database, 2.1 grams (g) or 1 teaspoon of ground cloves contains 6 kilocalories (kcal), 0.13 grams (g) of protein, and 0.27 g total fat. [1]

The effect of cloves on obesity is still studied. Previously, it was revealed that clove extract reduced the incidence of obesity resulting from a high-fat diet. The research found that mice who ate clove extract had lower body weight, less abdominal fat, and less liver fat than those in the control group. [1]


Cloves have been shown to have antimicrobial properties, meaning they can help stop the growth of microorganisms like bacteria. One test-tube study showed that clove essential oil killed three common types of bacteria, including E. coli, which is a strain of bacteria that can cause food poisoning. [2]

When it comes to toothache, one effective natural remedy is clove or clove oil. The anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties of cloves reduce the swelling around the infected tooth and the associated pain.

Cloves – The Ultimate Holiday Spice!

In addition, both cloves and clove oil are very effective for the respiratory system due to their expectorant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Thus, cloves may be used to help with colds, stuffy nose, sore throat, and viral infections.

Last but not least, due to their strong aroma, cloves can help you relax and reduce stress. Stress often causes tension in the muscles of the body. Eugenol, a component found in cloves, is a well-known muscle relaxant and helps counteract these adverse effects of excessive stress and anxiety.

Cloves – The Ultimate Holiday Spice!

Whole Cloves vs Ground Cloves

Ground cloves have a much shorter shelf-life and will lose their flavor faster, unlike whole cloves. One positive aspect of grinding your own cloves is that it will take less time for the flavors to infuse into dishes if you use powdered cloves right after grinding them. If you want to flavor a dish with whole cloves, you will need to cook it for a significantly longer time than ground cloves. [3]


Having the same flavor, ground and whole cloves are the best substitutes for each other. Note, however, that ground cloves won’t provide the same visual appeal in dishes. Whole cloves are normally studded into ham and onions while other dishes like sauces require ground cloves for flavor. In Indian dishes, you can’t use ground cloves instead of whole cloves since they would burn too quickly.

Cloves: Potential Side Effects

  • Dried cloves can damage tooth tissue and cause oral sensitivity and irritation
  • Excessive use of clove oil may irritate your skin, eyes, and respiratory system and may cause seizures
  • Clove oil can cause serious side effects such as liver damage, seizures, and fluid imbalance

Cloves – The Ultimate Holiday Spice!

Cloves: Uses

This aromatic spice is widely used in Indian cuisine to flavor dishes. Cloves also go well with chutney and pickles: a few cloves will give a distinct warm flavor and aroma. Cloves can also serve as an important ingredient for cakes, desserts, and even tea. Cloves are packed with powerful antioxidants that boost immunity. Just grind 1 tablespoon of whole cloves and add it to a cup of water. Heat the cinnamon water in a pan and bring it to a boil. Let it steep for 2-3 minutes. Strain the beverage and enjoy it while hot. [4]

According to the World Health Organization, the recommended daily intake of cloves is 2.5mg per 1 kg of body weight. [5]

Cloves – The Ultimate Holiday Spice!

How do I Use Cloves in Recipes?

Cloves have become a popular spice in the food industry, especially in the production of liquor products. Cloves are packed with essential oils, hence their strong aroma. They are put in hot dishes just before serving so that they do not lose their scent.

You can also add cloves to sweet dishes like punches, creams, puddings, compotes, and different kinds of desserts. Ginger cookies, cakes, and donuts with poppy seeds are also often prepared with cloves. Professional cooks warn to be careful with this spice when mixing it with other spices since its strong scent can overwhelm the main dish.

One of the most popular recipes with cloves is Classic Mulled Wine. If you haven’t tried to prepare it yet, it’s the perfect time to do so!

You need the following ingredients:

  • lemon
  • orange
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 7 pcs. cloves
  • 0.5 – 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 0.5 l semi-sweet red wine


  1. Wash the fruit and cut a few slices.
  2. Pour the wine into a bowl.
  3. Add sugar to the wine. The amount of this ingredient can be adjusted independently.
  4. Add cloves and cinnamon to the wine.
  5. Add orange and lemon – one slice each.
  6. Put the pot on the stove and start heating the drink. Don’t bring the mulled wine to boil: when you see the first bubbles, just remove the pan from the stove.
  7. Serve and enjoy.

Cloves are especially popular for canning. The secret of its popularity lies not only in its aroma and taste but also in its antiseptic properties. This spice is used to prepare vegetables, fish, meat, berry and fruit preservatives, and marinades. Cloves are added when canning mushrooms, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, cabbage, etc. See the recipe below:

Zucchini Pickles (garlic and cloves)


  • zucchini
  • garlic
  • cloves
  • bay leaves
  • pepper
  • water
  • dill
  • sugar
  • salt
  • vinegar


  1. Cut zucchini into rings approximately.
  2. Cut each garlic clove lengthwise into two parts, so our zucchini will get all the necessary smell and taste from this ingredient.
  3. Put garlic, spices, a few sprigs of dill, and a bay leaf in a clean liter jar. Put water in a saucepan on the stove.
  4. Pour boiling water over zucchini, cover, and leave for 15-20 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, let’s prepare the marinade. Pour water into a saucepan, and add sugar, salt, and vinegar. Mix everything thoroughly until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved. Bring the marinade to boil.
  6. Carefully drain the water from each jar. And then pour the boiling marinade over the zucchini.
  7. Close the jars with zucchini tightly with lids. Turn over and wrap with a warm towel. Cool for about 5-6 hours. Then remove the marinated zucchini for storage in a cool place. Bon appetite!

Cloves – The Ultimate Holiday Spice!

In conclusion, cloves are powerful antioxidants that help fight free radicals and boost our immunity. Based on the information above, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, thus, you should definitely start including this wonder spice in your daily meals, especially with the upcoming holiday season!