Affectionately known as the “stinking rose, it is guaranteed to transform any meal into a bold, aromatic and healthy culinary experience. Garlic is arranged in a head, called the “bulb,” averaging about 2 inches in height and diameter that can be easily separated into smaller parts known as cloves, all individually wrapped in papery skins. Related to onions, shallots, and leeks, Garlic is part of the Allium family.
Forms of Garlic When fresh is not available, use dried garlic – which has been dehydrated and sliced into flakes, or instant garlic, which are minced bits, both of which are often used in sauces, soups, stews and other liquid dishes that allow the garlic to become reconstituted. Other forms of garlic include powder, garlic extract, garlic paste, garlic juice, and garlic salt.
HOW TO CHOOSE
Shop for firm, tight, heavy, dry bulbs. Available year-round, garlic is at its best during late spring and summer, when its flavour is sweet and mild. Look for bulbs that are plump and compact with several layers of dry papery husk. A general rule is that the smaller the cloves, the stronger the flavour. A heavy, firm bulb indicates that the garlic will be fresh and flavourful, whereas a lightweight bulb is probably too old. Avoid damp or soft bulbs and bulbs that have begun to sprout, as well as any that have dark, powdery patches under the skin, evidence of a common mould that will eventually decay the flesh.
Garlic has the potential to sprout, which diminishes its sharp flavour. To prevent this, keep garlic in a loosely covered container, like a basket, and put it in a cool, dark place away from sunlight and heat.
With ideal freshness and storage conditions, garlic will keep for a few weeks to a few months, depending on its variety. Although it may be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week, this storage method is not advised for long-term storage.
Cautionary Tips: Do not store uncooked garlic in the freezer; freezing destroys its texture and adds an acrid flavour. Never store raw garlic in oil at room temperature; it can lead to botulism, a potentially lethal form of food poisoning.
Remove individual cloves from the bulb by peeling the outer layers of husk from the bulb. Then pull back on the top of the clove and snap it off at the base. Please Note: Care must be taken to leave the skin of those remaining on the bulb in tact – even a slight nick will speed decay.
Peel the cloves by placing them on a cutting board and laying the flat side of a broad knife on top. Tap the knife with a closed fist. A fairly gentle impact is all that’s required to split the peels without smashing the clove. Once crushed, it would be wise to let the bulbs sit for 10 – 15 minutes before cooking it, since Allyl sulfides are slowly released, a significant health benefit for your family.
Chop garlic by making several lengthwise cuts, then cut crosswise. The more finely the garlic is chopped, the more flavourful it will be.
Varying Flavour Intensities If cooking it, let stand for 10 minutes after chopping or crushing to enhance Allicin formation and improve flavour. However, the release of fresh garlic’s distinctive flavour varies depending of the method of preparation. Listed in order of intensity from highest to lowest flavour emission:
- pressing garlic while crushing
Garlic can be sliced, minced, pureed in a food processor and eaten raw. Its intense flavour is used to season as a savory addition to soups, stews, and casseroles.
Roasting whole garlic is worth the wait, since a sweet, nutty flavour and buttery consistency is developed. To roast whole bulbs:
- Place unpeeled bulbs on a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to wrap around the bulb.
- Bake for one hour at 375°F oven or until soft to the touch.
- When cool enough to handle, unwrap, cut the top off the bulb and press out the soft garlic pulp.
- Roasted garlic will keep several days in the refrigerator.
- If your family complains that the taste of raw garlic is too sharp, drop peeled cloves into boiling water for two minutes. Drain and proceed with the recipe. As with roasting, the health benefits are diminished, but the flavour remains.
- Be careful not to burn garlic when sautéing, because it will turn bitter. If the recipe calls for onions and garlic to be cooked together, add the garlic after the onions have been sautéed for a few minutes. Garlic takes less time to cook and the juice from the onions will help protect the garlic from scorching.
A bulb that has begun to sprout may still be used:
- Trim off the sprouts before preparing, since they are bitter.
- Another alternative is to plant the sprouted cloves to eventually be used like chives in soups, salads, or as a garnish. Let them grow to a height of about six inches before using.
Ideas for Serving Roasted Garlic
- A low-fat spread roasted garlic on any of Ralph’s deli-fresh breads along with creamy havarti cheese.
- Add to olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping oil.
- Make a savoury dip by combining with roasted eggplant.
- A great addition to basil pesto.
- Blend with mashed potatoes.
- A splendid pizza-topping ingredient.
- Stuff roma or cherry tomatoes with a fusion of roasted garlic, cream cheese, lemon juice, salt, pepper.
- Make crostini (little toasts) with our Ralph’s baguettes, roasted garlic, goat cheese and fruit chutney.
- Cut an entire clove in half and shove it inside poultry with fresh rosemary and a half a lemon.
- A flavourful contributor to gravies and other sauces as a roast accompaniment.
- Combine with pasta salads.
- Mix with butter as a mouth-watering topping to grilled corn.
- An intriguing addition to desserts such as brownies or even ice cream.
With only 4 calories a clove, garlic involves tremendous health promoting antioxidant qualities: Allyl sulfides are sulfur compounds that may help promote healthy arteries and cholesterol levels and help protect against cancer.
Garlic (raw), 3 cloves (9g)
Total Fat: 0.04g
- Get the smell off your hands by running your hands under water while touching any stainless steel object. Stainless steel contains the mineral nickel, which acts as a neutralizer for the garlic odor. For instance, rinse your hands and rinse the knife used at the same time. Several manufacturers provide a kitchen utensil, similar to a flat bar of soap made of stainless steel, that can be rubbed over the hands after coming in contact with garlic. Other options include using a faucet or stainless steel sink surface to rub hands on after first washing the exposed areas.
- Allicin is a powerful antibacterial and anti-fungal compound obtained from chopped or otherwise damages garlic. Its many beneficial and medicinal properties degrade slowly upon standing and are rapidly destroyed by cooking. It is, also, the chemical constituent primarily responsible for the hot, burning flavour of fresh garlic.
- Although sprouted garlic has lost some of its potency, both in flavour and health benefits, it is still usable.
- History seems to reveal that garlic began in central Asia with its agriculture dating back at least 6,000 years. Garlic has been a mainstay in Mediterranean countries for about one thousand years, whereas North America’ acceptance began in the 1940’s.