The dry, unopened flower bud of the tropical myrtle tree family used to flavour a wide variety of sweet and savoury dishes. Cloves can be used whole or ground to impart a strong sweet but spicy and peppery flavour so should be used in moderation to avoid over seasoning.
Insert whole cloves into baked hams or oranges, apples or onions to add flavour or add ground cloves to curries.
It's best to grind whole cloves into powder, using a mortar and pestle, just prior to using them to ensure flavour and freshness are at their peak. To stud an ingredient with cloves, stick whole cloves into it so that the bud heads protrude. Make sure to remove whole cloves before serving as they have a strong, pungent and slightly unpleasant flavour on their own.
Cloves have a long shelf life, lasting up to a year, if they are kept in a cool, dark place away from light.