Clove might be the perfect autumn aphrodisiac. Considered to be one of the “warming spices,” clove raises body temperature to ward off that chill in the air. (It can also be useful in heating you up enough to tear off your clothes in a fit of passion, no matter how low the thermometer dips!)
Cloves are the dried buds of an evergreen tree. Because their shape is said to resemble tiny penises, (I don’t see it), it is traditionally thought of as an aphrodisiac for men. It has been used as such in Chinese medicine for centuries.
The scent of cloves is one of the classic aromas of autumn. Sweet, spicy and distinctive, it's what gives mulled cider its signature scent. It's also the aroma that gives glazed ham its comfort note. The smell, although most commonly associated with crunching leaves and roaring fires, pumpkin carving and baking pies, may actually be the key to clove’s aphrodisiac reputation. Cloves, along with several other herbs and spices, contains eugenol. Its aroma is believed to enhance sexual feelings.
Clove has many medicinal properties, most notably as an anesthetic. It's also known to reduce bacteria in the mouth. (Who better to kiss than a clove-eater?!)
Whether you buy into its aphrodisiac promise or not, clove is one of the most delicious flavors you can use to “spice up” a fall meal. They’re delicious in gingerbread, bbq sauces, sweet potatoes, bean soups, roast pumpkin and split pea soup. I wouldn’t dream of making apple sauce without a pinch of clove. But my favorite fall use for cloves is to flavor a pot of poached quince or pears.
Amy’s Poached Quince
6 large quince (recipe also works with 8 pears)
7 c water
1 1/2 c sugar
6 whole cloves
1 whole lemon, well washed and cut in half
1. Quarter the quince. (I leave the cores in mine, removing them just before serving. I do this because the quince is as hard as wood and softens during cooking. But you can core them prior to cooking to avoid imparting any flavor from the seeds.)
2. Add the water, sugar, cloves and lemon to a pot. Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved.
3. Add quince, cover and simmer for about 1 1/2—2 1/2 hours. (Quince may cook more quickly if cored before being added to the pot.) Test for doneness with a paring knife. Fruit should be soft but still retain its shape.
4. To store. Add fruit to container. Strain cooking liquid and pour over top of the quince.