What To Look For
High quality, fresh cloves feel slightly oily and excrete a tiny amount of oil when a small incision is made into their stem. They either sink or swim with their “heads” upright when put into water, whereas a low quality product that contains lesser amounts of natural oil will float on the surface with the “heads” on their sides.
How To Use Them
The intensely fragrant spice is popular in cuisines around the globe, from China to India, Sri Lanka, the Middle East, and Africa to Europe. Outside of Western cooking, cloves are often used to scent rice and to lend their intense aroma to savory dishes with meat. In Ethiopia, ground cloves are used together with ground cardamom to flavor coffee.
They are also a part of a number of different spice mixes, such as Chinese Five Spice Powder, curry powder, Arabic baharat, Ethiopian berbere, or Moroccan ras el hanout. In Europe, cloves are used whole to flavor fruit compotes (such as apple or pear), and they are an essential ingredient in Lebkuchen.