These are the small dried unopened buds from the tropical clove tree.
The strong spiciness of cloves is used in Western cooking for adding to sweet things such as pies and cakes or in mulled drinks, as well as in pickles, for studding into baked hams or into onions to flavour savoury stews and sauces.
Indian cooking tends to use them just in savoury dishes, particularly with rice and meat. Cloves can easily overpower a dish, particularly when ground, so only a few need be used.
Whole cloves are often used to “stud” hams and pork, pushing the tapered end into the meat like a nail .Dentists have used clove oil as an oral anaesthetic. They also used it to disinfect root canals.
Clove oil still is an active ingredient in several mouthwash products and a number of over-the-counter toothache pain-relief preparations.
Cloves kill intestinal parasites and exhibits broad anti-microbial properties against fungi and bacteria, thus supporting its traditional use as a treatment for diarrhoea, intestinal worms, and other digestive ailments.
Like many culinary spices, Cloves helps relax the smooth muscle lining of the digestive tract.
And finally, eating cloves is said to be aphrodisiac.