Thursday, 12 April 2018

A Clove Harvest.




Who would have ever thought that a bud can be more fragrant than the flower itself!  And not just that – who would have ever thought that drying the bud could make it even more fragrant! 

Well, ages back when our civilisation was still toddling along,  some one apparently did, and thanks to that, today we have cloves (the aromatic dried flower buds of the Syzygium aromaticum tree) in our spice box, , in our tooth pastes,  in Gl├╝hwein,  in Christmassy Pomanders, in the Lavang Latika.......  and ....did someone just say ‘Chocolate?’  Oh no no no... I don’t think so.

So how exactly does the clove tree look?  How is it harvested?  Come along, lets walk out into the farm and take a look.



The Clove tree is a really tall slender tree  and if you look at its trunk near the base, you would almost mistake it for the slender Arecanut tree.  



But look up and you will see the lateral branches spreading out in all directions.  It is an evergreen tree with pale green leaves.  


The buds are borne in clusters at the very tip of the branches.  And like all delicate buds, one needs to hand pick them at harvest time. 

The pole-ladder balances delicately against the adjacent arecanut tree. You can climb up the ladder, holding your arm around the tree. Every few steps up, the ladder has a cord which you can tie securely around the tree , so if the tree sways in the gentle breeze, the ladder sways with it rather than toppling over.


 Now that you are at the very top of the ladder, hold one arm securely around the tree and then start plucking the buds. You can toss them into the basket that is strapped to your back.  Make sure you pluck only the bunches which have  a pinkish tint to it.  If many of the  flowers have already bloomed, then you know you have delayed the harvest. 

Uh-oh  these have already bloomed!


Pluck all that are within easy reach, do not lean too far.  Now that you are done, you can climb down carefully, undoing the cords that you tied on your way up.  On steady ground now?  Whats that whooshing sound I just heard?  – oh did I forgot to mention ‘Breathe while you are up there”...... did you really hold your breath all this while?

Ha ha –I think I need to look for a new volunteer for my next years clove harvest.

Now the easy part – separate the individual buds from the bunch, spread them on steel plates and let the benevolent sun do its job. 



We can go indoors for a glass of chilled starfruit  juice.

After a day of drying - see how the colour changes!


Finally Perfect Cloves!







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