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Clover – a great ingredient for bakers and cooks

Clover works well as an ingredient, for example in bread, and tastes good. The aromatic spice gives curd and strong soups a distinctive character. Be careful though: given its intense taste, less is more.

Different kinds of clover have been added to baked goods for centuries. Whether as dried leaves or powder, clover is a healthy and natural ingredient. With it you can create wonderful aromatic flavors in breads, bread buns and cheese savories.
It’s particularly used to add flavor to strong rye breads. Using blue fenugreek in breads with pumpkin seeds is another way to use the spice. You could also find it in walnut bread, together with turmeric, anise or fennel seed. Clover isn’t only used in bakeries, but also in the kitchen, in many recipes.

If you want to take advantage of the special aroma of clover, then you should first decide which one you want to use. The most common types are fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) and blue fenugreek (Trigonella caerulea). Fenugreek is probably the one that is more known, particularly for its use in cheese.

Particularly aromatic flavor
Theoretically all clover varieties can be used to manufacture food. Red clover, for example. Crisp bread with the pink-colored flower heads doesn’t just look good. It also tastes good. Blue fenugreek is probably less known than regular fenugreek. Both have the particularly aromatic flavor in common. That’s why you should only use a little bit of the plant when you use it to cook something. Blue fenugreek (Trigonella caerulea) tastes similarly and, depending on the region, is also know by other names.

It originates in Persia
The blue fenugreek made its way to the North European Alpine region many centuries ago. It originates in Persia and the Eastern Mediterranean region. In its homeland it was first used in curry powders or other oriental spice blends. It has also been growing in our Alpine region since the 11th century. The plant is planted and harvested mostly in Switzerland and South Tyrol. The primary cultivation areas there are the Hochpustertal and the Vinschgau.
People say that this plant species, that is also called bread clover, is as normal for farmers in South Tyrol as basil is for Italians. This is especially the case when it comes to bread making. The people from South Tyrol are also the ones that claim to grow the highest quality blue fenugreek in the Alpine region. This plant grows at higher elevations and thus experiences a rougher climate, which is the reason why it supposedly is more aromatic that the variety grown in the lowlands.

Fermentation creates the aroma
Fresh blue fenugreek doesn’t taste very impressive, it’s the fermentation process after the harvest that leads to its special aroma.
The plant can already be harvested in fall, after being planted in summer. The second harvest with the even more intense aroma happens in spring. The really intense taste is, as already mentioned, only created through fermentation. Blue fenugreek is mainly processed into an intense pistachio-green powder and should be used sparingly, due to its intense taste. For example, you just need little amounts to turn a good rye sourdough loaf into a savory delicacy.

Vinschgauer Bread
Blue fenugreek is indispensable in South Tyrol as a spice for the manufacturing of the Vinschgauer flatbread, with its typical high rye proportion. The Swiss and the Austrians also like to bake and cook with the spice. The cheese obtains a very aromatic flavor by adding the spice. There are many recipes and even more ideas for the usage of this spice.

Doesn’t just taste great in curd
As dip added to curd, it doesn’t just taste good to vegetarians. You could fry fresh mushrooms in blue fenugreek butter, if you like. Or a juicy steak. Vegetable casseroles also benefit from a little bit of the spice.

Fenugreek has a long tradition as an ingredient in the creation of aromatic foods as well. People use primarily the seeds. The plant was already used in the ancient world as an aromatic spice especially cherished by the Egyptians. It also originates in the Middle East, like the blue fenugreek.
Fenugreek has been an integral part of Indian cuisine for many centuries, and is used for foods and as foundation for many curries. Used together with red lentils or other legumes, it creates an Indian flair that is not only appreciated by vegetarians and vegans.
Charlemagne was supposedly a big fan of fenugreek. Legend has it that he ordered the cultivation of the plant in German cloister gardens.

Real multi-talent
We like to use fenugreek seeds to create an aromatic rye bread, often in combination with other spices like fried onions, cilantro, caraway or fennel. Fenugreek can’t just be added to breads, but is also a real multi-talent. Fenugreek already made a name for itself as a cheese spice and as a spice that can be used in tea, soups or for crispy oven-roasted vegetables.

As with all topics, there is a possibility to exchange ideas in the forum.

About Markus Messemer

Seit 2007 intensiv mit dem Thema "CleanLabel" verbunden engagiert sich Markus Messemer für deklarationsfreundliche Rezepturen, Rohstoffe und Technologien.

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