Two months ago I made a chai tea redolent with cloves, but without milk or sugar. I put it in my water bottle to drink during the day, but it was pushed behind other bottles and I forgot about it. Two weeks later there was not one spec of mold floating in the liquid and a quick smell and taste of a few drops revealed no souring. I was curious and put it back. Two months after making it shows no growth of organisms or off taste or odor. Which got me thinking about the Spice Route.
In the ancient time, refrigeration was unavailable, especially in cities where cellars and ice were generally unavailable. Spices were important not only for food preservation, but to fortify the digestion and to cure food poisoning. In Europe where there was little tradition of fermenting meat, spices or smoking (often with spices or aromatic wood) were the primary way of dealing with meat that might not be fresh. Cloves were one of the most important. Continue reading Cloves for Preservation and to Lift the Spirit