Cloves are the dried buds of a large flowering tree, which are 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 other clove producers. 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 producing 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, black pepper and nutmeg) for generations. Burlap and Barrel is the exclusive importer of Zanzibar cloves into the United States.
Our cloves are hand-picked at the last possible moment before flowering, ensuring the largest size and most mature flavor, and then dried in the tropical sun. Hand-sorted for quality and consistency, our cloves always exceed the highest grade given by the Zanzibar government. They are bright, sweet and very spicy, with rich loamy warmth and a numbing menthol buzz. Their island terroir lends a touch of salt and fragrant notes of eucalyptus and tropical flowers.
Like all of the spices from our partner cooperative in Zanzibar, our Pemba cloves are EU-certified organic. Our current lot of Pemba cloves was just harvested in early 2018.