Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Recipe: Homemade Extract of Clove

Nothing is pleasant that is not spiced with variety. – Francis Bacon

Today's victims.
This is number 3 in my quest for extracts to make inexpensively at home. It's always good to know how to make things yourself that cost a lot of money to buy, if you can even find them...

Photo: Wiki CC
I have seen extract of clove for sale at bakery shops, health food stores and the local bulk food store. It’s usually sold in tiny little bottles for several dollars. Clove oil, a stronger extract, can be purchased over-the-counter at pharmacies.

Making extract of clove is as easy as making homemade vanilla or cardamom extract, both of which I posted previously. Use that search button at the right. I’m sure it gets lonely…

If what I see with my own eyes is correct, extract of clove may be one of the fastest extracts you can make. Within 24 hours the colour was darker than my month-old vanilla. That bodes well.

A brief history of cloves
During China’s Han dynasty, supplicants addressing the emperor we required to have cloves in their mouths to mask their bad breath. That reminds me of a joke by George Carlin: “If you run out of deodorant, put a bay leaf under each arm. It won’t stop you from perspiring, but you’ll smell like soup!”

A 14th Century French apothicaire. Photo: Wiki CC
Cloves made their appearance in Europe in the 4th Century as a luxury spice. Because of its ancient use in medical preparations (other than masking bad breath) it wasn’t long before Europeans were exposed to home-cooked medicines of various “effectiveness” using clove oil (the distilled, stronger extract).

The medieval German herbalists used cloves as part of anti-gout mixture. Once clove became easily available in Europe, it was prized as a treatment for indigestion, flatulence, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It was also used to treat cough, infertility, warts, worms, wounds, and toothache. European hospitals use clove to treat viral hepatitis, bacterial colitis, hypertension, thyroid dysfunction, and fatigue.

Early American Eclectic (huh?) physicians used clove to treat digestive complaints and added it to bitter herb-medicine preparations to make them more palatable. They were also the first to extract clove oil from the herbal buds. They used it on the gums to relieve toothache.

Traditional uses in America include treating worms, viruses, candida, and various bacterial and protozoan infections. Clove is also used for toothaches, bad breath, dizziness, cough, earache, colitis, epilepsy, palsy, and digestive upsets, as a sleep-inducer, anti-inflammatory, blood-thinner, mental stimulant, etc.

Proven health value of cloves
Clove contains significant amounts of an active component called eugenol, which has made it the subject of numerous health studies, including studies on the prevention of toxicity from environmental pollutants like carbon tetrachloride, digestive tract cancers, and joint inflammation. In the United States, eugenol extracts from clove have often been used in dentistry in conjunction with root canal therapy, temporary fillings, and general gum pain, since eugenol and other components of clove (including beta-caryophyllene) combine to make clove a mild anaesthetic as well as an anti-bacterial agent. For these beneficial effects, you'll also find clove oil in some over-the-counter sore throat sprays and mouth washes.

Anti-Inflammatory Activity
Eugenol, the primary component of clove's volatile oils, functions as an anti-inflammatory substance. In animal studies, the addition of clove extract to diets already high in anti-inflammatory components (like cod liver oil, with its high omega-3 fatty acid content) brings significant added benefits, and in some studies, further reduces inflammatory symptoms by another 15-30%. Clove also contains a variety of flavonoids, including kaempferol and rhamnetin, which also contribute to clove's anti-inflammatory (and antioxidant) properties.

A Nutrient-Dense Spice
Like its fellow spices, clove's unique phytonutrient components are accompanied by an incredible variety of traditionally-recognized nutrients. Using our nutrient ranking system, we determined cloves to be an excellent source of manganese, a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin K, dietary fiber, and vitamin C and a good source of calcium and magnesium.

Extract of clove at right. This is after only 24 hours.
My culinary uses
I’m going to use my essence of clove in baked goods. It should add a nice zing to gingerbread, chocolate cake, spice cookies or any other food that uses whole or ground cloves.

It could also be tossed with apples before baking a pie, or many other fruits in compotes or tarts.

Use your imagination! Watch for more extracts in the future...

How to make Extract of Clove
1 bottle with well fitting top (either cork or screw)
clove buds

Fill your chosen container 1/3 full with clove buds. Pour the vodka over the top and let it age for 3-4 weeks before use. 

There is no need to strain the infusion but it may make it easier to pour...To use it taste how strong your infusion is and judge from there.


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Questions? Comments? Derogatory remarks?


  1. May I ask....did you taste your clove extract after the 24 hour window?

  2. Hi, sorry to took so long for me to respond. I didn't taste at 24 hours. The process for making an extract strong enough so you can get flavour out of a teaspoon takes 2-3 weeks. The colour will darken appreciably over time as well.

  3. Hi, I have two very important questions i wanted to know? 1) how to make wood tincture? I wanted to make a tincture out of sandalwood wood 2) How are metal tinctures made in homeopathy ? Just wanted to know if we can make them like we make herbal tinctures. If you have any relevant links will be appreciated.

  4. Thanks for the link for clove extract. i kind of powdered the cloves before putting it in alcohol(brandy ) hope its ok.

    What about wood tinctures like with sandalwood ?

    1. Hi. I've never made a wood tincture. Sorry I can't help. As far as the powdered clove, you'll probably need to strain the extract once it's infused or you'll get grit (unless that's OK). Strain it at about 4-5 months age.

    2. Yes regarding clove yes, i don't think powdering was such a good idea as it started giving out oil as i crushed it, but i immediately put it in the bottle with alcohol, as such the the cloves are very delicate and soft. Your method of putting whole clove is better i'm just trying both.
      Regarding wood i'm still trying to find a way to crush or powder it.Thanks for the replies. Cheers !

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