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Cloves and how to use them in cooking

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Cloves are actually flower buds that have dried out in the sun. Originally from the Spice Islands, they came to Europe in the 4th century and have been held in high esteem as a cure-all since then. Plus a recipe for Spiced Apple or Orange Juice Recipe and Craft Cider with Cloves and Cinnamon.

– Cloves are used in the kitchen to fragrance hams, to add spice to mulled wine, to make bread sauce taste even better and how bereft would an Irish childhood be without a quarter of clove drops sold straight from the jar in the sweet shop?

– Cloves are also used for pickling –  add them to pickling vinegar when you make preserved vegetables.

– Add ground cloves to Christmas cakes, breads and biscuits.

– In the 17th century people studded oranges with cloves to protect them from The Plague.

– You can make a Christmas Clove and and Orange Pomander easily by pressing whole cloves into an orange and hanging it with a ribbon or decorative string.

– High-grade clove oil is used for its soothing and anaesthetic qualities by dentists – in the past cloves were used as a remedy for toothache (people rubbed oil on the tooth to numb the pain) and they are sometimes used in breath fresheners.

– Use cloves judiciously as they can overpower a dish easily. To make a joint of ham taste even better, brush  a mixture of mustard and runny honey over the finished ham when it comes out of the oven, stud the surface with cloves and pop it back in the oven for 15 minutes. The leftovers make fantastic sandwiches.

Spiced Apple or Orange Juice Recipe
Make spiced orange or apple juice by heating a litre of orange or apple juice with 4 tablespoons caster sugar, 4 cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks and the juice of half a lemon. Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan, simmer for 10 minutes, then strain.

Craft Cider with Cloves and Cinnamon

Use any Irish cider for this recipe.

Place 6 cloves, 4 allspice berries and 3 sticks of cinnamon in a large saucepan with 2 sliced oranges and 70g of cane or demerara sugar. Pour 1000ml craft cider on top, bring to a lively simmer over medium heat and cook for 15-20 minutes until fragrant. Ladle into heatproof glasses or mugs.

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