I have whole cloves and need to crush/grind them. Should I break the berry parts off the much-harder stem and just grind that, or is the whole thing meant to be used?

(I'm using a mortar and pestle, not a spice grinder, so non-mechanized manipulation may make a difference!)


One clove is "the berry part", as you describe it, and the "stem". Use the whole thing.

  • But the stems are so hard to crush up! <DRAMATIC SIGH> ;)
    – Erica
    Dec 10 '17 at 20:31
  • @Erica, they are (and even worse than star anise, a question you've inspired btw). I was hoping for some more insight how to improve that.
    – Ghanima
    Dec 10 '17 at 22:42
  • 3
    Its probably less work than removing the berries one by one ;p Dec 11 '17 at 0:44
  • 3
    I crush the whole thing with a pestle and mortar. Not trying to do too many at a time helps a lot. You also don't need it to be as fine as you might think, at least when there's long slow cooking in liquid, as they soften significantly. An old family recipe for apple pie had whole cloves in (known as "nails" when we were children). Normally they'd be left (like cardamom pods in pilau rice) but they were chewy rather than hard by the time the apples were cooked.
    – Chris H
    Dec 11 '17 at 9:40

Ground cloves is supposed to be just the dried bud and not the nail. A mortar and pestile won't work well for this. A spice grinder that is all metal is preferable to plastic because the clove oil will pit and cloud the plastic. I usually buy cloves in both - whole for hams and ground for 5 spice, pumpkin pie and warm apple cider.

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