Our Pemba Cloves are hand-picked by our partner farmers on the small island of Pemba, in the Zanzibar Archipelago, which is famous for its cloves. They have a bright, sweet intensity with a rich warmth and a numbing menthol buzz. They’re picked at the last possible moment before flowering, ensuring the largest size and most mature flavor. Bright pink when ripe, they turn brown as they dry in the tropical sun. Add whole to braised meats and mulled wine, or grind into desserts.
- Drop a few whole cloves into braising liquids or stews
- Combine with cinnamon and nutmeg for a warm drink or dessert
- Season a rice or biryani dish
- Use as a decorative and flavorful studding for a roast
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Cloves are the dried buds of a large flowering tree that is grown in the Zanzibar islands in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Tanzania. Zanzibar has some of the oldest clove trees in the world, and Zanzibari cloves have a significantly higher percentage of essential oils (15-18%) than cloves from other parts of the world. Their essential oil content is so high that they are used locally as a natural substitute for anesthesia.
Zanzibar was at one point the largest producer of cloves in the world, but the rise of plantation-style cultivation and exploitative labor practices in other countries have made it difficult for smallholder farmers in Zanzibar to compete, despite the fact that they produce a much higher quality product. Our cloves are grown by a cooperative of smallholder artisan farmers, many of whose families have been growing cloves and other spices (including our Cinnamon Verum, black pepper and Stone Nutmeg) for generations.
Meet the Farmer: Bwana Mohammad is one of the most successful spice farmers from our partner cooperative in Zanzibar. This photo was taken as he was putting together his own dhow, an ancient style of sailing ship, to transport his clove harvest to the main island himself.