Cloves [Eugenica caryophyllata]
Pomander An Aromatic Insect Repellent
Hoist those unwanted moths on a clove petard by studding a thin skinned orange with the aromatic flower buds from the evergreen clove tree. The best, the darkest, the strongest, and the most aromatic of these brown studs are said to come from the Moluccas or Spice Islands.
Fragrant balls of aromatics were once used as an antidote to disease. Pornanders were often made with apples, but oranges were considered even more helpful against pestilence. Today these spicy balls, made either with oranges, apples, lemons, limes, or kumquats, are mainly used as insect repellents in closets or clothes drawers.
Studding the Pomander
Pierce a few holes in the orange with a thin steel nail or large darning needle and insert a group of cloves at a time until the orange is completely covered in concentric circles of cloves. Depending on the size of the fruit
and the size of the cloves (the largest are best), this may take several hours (a great rainy day group activity). Use a thimble to push large cloves into the rind.
Next sprinkle the clove studded fruit with your favorite spice blend. An easy home mixture is a combination of these blended powders: four tablespoons of cloves, six tablespoons of nutmeg, one half tablespoon of ginger, and one tablespoon of orris root (needed as a fixative). Be careful to cover the area between the cloves, so that the juices of the fruit and the spices will mingle and become one.
Turn the clove orange from time to time until the fruit dries and shrivels. Encase it in a cheesecloth or open mesh nylon cloth, and hang in a closet to dry. After several weeks, tie the orange with a narrow red velvet ribbon, crossing at the base. Place a large looped bow on the top, and hang the orange in a clothes closet or use it in a drawer with woolen sweaters.
These spice impregnated fruits are anathema to insects. They last for a lifetime and can be revitalized by redipping into the same aromatic concoction.
Clove Gargle We have a custom of making a rich hot wine grog on New Year's Day. These same spices, without the sweetener and in sherry, can be transformed into a goodtasting, strong antiseptic gargle for sore throat or for mouth rinsing.
You can use your leftover wine for a mouthwash if you like. The light wines are best; the others have too much body.
1 pint (inexpensive) sherry
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) bruised cloves
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) bruised cinnamon pinch of bruised caraway seeds
lavender water optional, to be used later.
Steep the spices and seeds in the sherry. Keep the mixture in a dark closet. Shake it as often as you can. After a week or two strain out the herbs (I have left them in and it doesn't do any harm, but eventually they get mushy and stringy). Add a few drops of lavender water or lotion to the gargle for aroma. To use the gargle for sore throat, add about a teaspoon to a tablespoon of the wine to a glass of water.
Clove Oil Anesthetic
When you scrape or bruise cloves, you release a valuable, volatile oil which can be a temporary skin anesthetic. That is why whole bruised cloves can be rolled in the mouth (or first soaked in hot honey) for temporary toothache aid. Clove oil can be purchased in drugstores but be careful how you use it it is extremely strong on the skin. However, a tiny bit can be added to liquid and pure anhydrous lanolin to relieve topical irritability of eczema. Some allergic people may be sensitive to clove oil so be very cautious in using it.
Clove oil plus zinc oxide (ointment) is still sometimes used by dentists for temporary fillings, and to disinfect depulped root canals before permanent restoration of a tooth.
To make your own clove oil, shove a handful of the largest and the darkest bruised cloves into olive oil until the jar is full. Strain out the cloves after a week, save the oil, and repeat the process until the oil is saturated with newly released clove oil.
This volatile oil from cloves can also be released by bruising and steeping the cloves in boiling water, and then simmering them for a few minutes. When simmering, do not allow the water to be reduced too much, as this creates a stronger extract of cloves. one which may be too strong in its sleep effect. However, a teaspoon to a cup of boiling water will produce a mild and slightly sedative tea. You can also add other sleep rewarding herbs such as chamomile, linden, or sage. This tea can also be used as a temporary toothache aid.
Clove tea or bruised cloves added to such herbal teas as chamomile, linden, or peppermint can often help lift people out of mild depressions. Thus, it is a good idea to use a clove or two in the tea of those who tend to be depressed.
Cloves act less upon the system at large than on the part to which they are immediately applied. They are, therefore, very useful in digestive problems weak digestion or nausea and a clove tea or bruised cloves added to other herbal teas will relieve nausea and vomiting, correct flatulence, and excite "languid" digestion. They are also very valuable in other medicinal preparations to assist the action of other herbs. Cloves may be tried for digestive problems along with cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, caraway, fennel, and anise.
An ordinary cut, particularly a paper cut on a finger, can be extremely painful. Here's my father's favorite remedy: Wet your finger, and dip it into powdered cloves. The pain will quickly disappear. This is because cloves have, a special ability to slightly anesthetize the skin.