A sweet, but very strong spice obtained as an unopened flower bud from tropical evergreen trees, belonging to the myrtle tree family. Cloves can be used whole as a dried bud or they can be ground into a powder and added to a variety of sweet or savory dishes. Cloves are commonly used to flavor baked hams, to be inserted into oranges for holiday celebrations, and to add a seasoned flavor to cookies, meats, curries, sauces, and a variety of other foods. Strong in flavor, this spice provides a sweet and somewhat spicy or peppery taste as a seasoning, so it is wise not to use it in excess or it will overpower the food being seasoned. Indicative of their strength as a flavoring, some Asian countries use cloves as breath fresheners, placing the clove in the mouth to slowly emit the powerful flavor, similar to a breath mint.
To store cloves, place them in a cool dry area, packaged in an airtight container for up to a year if whole or 3 months if ground. Cloves will begin to loose their strong flavor when stored longer than the 1 year as a whole clove or 3 months as a ground powder.