Ingredient of the Week: Cloves

By Bettina Campolucci Bordi

1 year ago

Surprising ways you can use the spice in your cooking, and to help cure ailments

Each week plant-based cook Bettina Campolucci Bordi, founder of Bettina’s Kitchen, gives us the lowdown on a particular ingredient, offering cooking tips and a recipe. This week it’s cloves.

Ingredient of the Week: Cloves

Clove is a spice that has been used in cooking for centuries. It is made from the dried flower buds of the clove tree, and is known for its warm, sweet and slightly bitter flavour. Here, I will share some fun facts about cloves and explore their uses in cooking.


Cloves have a long and interesting history. The spice has been used in cooking for over 2,000 years and was popular in ancient China and India. They were one of the most valuable spices during the Age of Exploration, traded for gold and used to preserve food during long sea voyages. The ancient Greeks and Romans also used them for medicinal purposes – back then cloves were believed to cure a variety of ailments, including toothaches and indigestion.




Today, cloves are a popular ingredient in a variety of dishes, from stews and soups to desserts and drinks. They are also used in traditional medicine for their antiseptic and analgesic properties. Clove oil, meanwhile, is used as a natural remedy for toothaches and other dental problems. If I have a toothache I take a whole clove, chew on it for a bit and then let it linger in the area of where I have a toothache as it almost acts as a numbing agent.

One of my favourite ways to use them in cooking is to add them to stews and soups. Cloves provide a warm and slightly sweet flavour that pairs well with a variety of ingredients. To use cloves in a stew or soup, simply add a few whole cloves to the pot along with your other ingredients. Be sure to remove the cloves before serving, as they can be quite strong if eaten whole.

Christmas baking


It is also a great ingredient to use in baking. Cloves pair well with warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and can be used in a variety of desserts, from pies and cakes to cookies and muffins. Be sure to use them sparingly though, as they can be quite strong.

You can also put them in drinks, particularly hot ones like mulled wine and cider. To make a mulled drink with cloves, simply heat wine or cider in a pot along with cloves, cinnamon sticks, and other warm spices. This drink is perfect for cold winter nights and provides a warm and comforting flavour.

I love making this very quick pickle. The addition of clove makes it extra aromatic and gives it a bit more depth of flavour.

Recipe: Quick Pickled Shallots

Makes 1 jar


  • 5 shallots, sliced into half moons
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • Apple cider vinegar, enough to fill the jar half full
  • Large pinch of salt


  1. Add the brown sugar, apple cider vinegar and salt to the jar, filling up to half way, and whisk to combine.
  2. Then add the cloves and onions and push down to ensure the onions are covered by the apple cider vinegar mixture. Stir to combine.
  3. Cover with the lid and put in the fridge.  
  4. This will be ready to eat in 15 minutes however the longer it sits the more potent the flavour will be!