Garlic, I love you!

What are the benefits of garlic?

Garlic (Allium sativum), is used widely as a flavoring in cooking, but it has been used as a medicine throughout ancient and modern history; it has been taken to prevent and treat a wide range of conditions and diseases.

Garlic belongs to the genus Allium and is closely related to the onion rakkyo (an onion found in Asia), scallion, chive, leek, and shallot. It has been used by humans for thousands of years and was used in Ancient Egypt for both culinary purposes and its health and therapeutic benefits.

National Garlic Day may be a holiday best celebrated alone or with a hefty box of breath mints and a very charitable loved one, but few foods are as deserving of their very own day of recognition as the amazing, edible bulbous plant. Celebrate National Garlic Day on April 19 with your favorite garlic-laced meal and a few fun facts about this delicious, flavor-packed add-in that can do almost anything, from reducing your cholesterol to keeping vampires at bay.

11 Things You Might Not Have Known About Garlic

1. YOU CAN EAT MORE THAN JUST THE STANDARD GARLIC CLOVE.

When you think “garlic,” you inevitably picture garlic cloves, but despite the ubiquity of that particular image of the plant, it’s not the only part you can eat. Green shoots that can be especially delicious and tender when they’re young. Think of them as garlic-flavored scallions. They make a wonderful addition to pestos, soups, and butters.

2. CHINA PRODUCES THE MOST GARLIC.

Garlic is native to central Asia and has long popped up in European and African cooking, too. But it’s China that currently holds the record for most garlic grown, China grows a staggering two-thirds of the world’s garlic, believed to be around 46 billion pounds per year.

3. AVERAGE CONSUMPTION OF GARLIC IS BELIEVED TO WEIGH IN AT AROUND TWO POUNDS PER PERSON.

Even with just two pounds, that means eating roughly 302 cloves per person per year.

4. GARLIC’S HEALTH BENEFITS ARE MYRIAD, INCLUDING AN ABILITY TO REDUCE CHOLESTEROL.

The best way to release the health-happy power of garlic is to cut it, which turns garlic’s thiosulfate compounds into allicin, an antibiotic and antifungal that is believed to reduce “bad” cholesterol as it inhibits enzymes from growing in liver cells.

5. ALLICIN IS ALSO GOOD AT COMBATING HEART DISEASE.

Allicin helps nitric oxide release in the blood vessels, relaxing them and bringing about a drop in blood pressure. . Keeping blood vessels relaxed and lowering blood pressure is good for the heart and the rest of the vascular system.

6. GARLIC CONTAINS VITAMINS, MINERALS, AND ANTIOXIDANTS THAT ARE GOOD FOR YOU.

Garlic bulbs are filled with potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and Vitamin C.

7. GARLIC’S USE AS A HEALTH AID DATES BACK TO ANCIENT HISTORY.

It’s believed that Egyptian pharaohs plied their pyramid builder with garlic for strength, and an ancient Egyptian medical document, the Ebers Papyrus counts 22 different medicinal uses for the plant. Garlic pops up in texts from Virgil, Pliny the Elder, Chaucer, and Galen, all of which detail its various uses and share lore about the magic plant.

8. DESPITE ITS ASIAN ORIGINS, ITS NAME IS DERIVED FROM ANGLO-SAXON SPEECH.

A combination of two Anglo-Saxon words—“gar” (spear) and “lac” (plant)—is believed to be the source of the plant’s name, specifically in reference to the shape of its leaves. ,

9. GARLIC’S REAL HEALTH BENEFITS ARE PROBABLY THE REASON FOR ONE OF ITS MOST PREVALENT MYTHS.

Garlic had long been recognized as a wonderful health aid before writer Bram Stoker introduced the concept of the vampire, a beast repelled by garlic to the public with his 1897 novel Dracula. In the book, he uses it as a protective agent, and it’s believed that Stoker lifted that idea from garlic’s many medicinal purposes, particularly as a mosquito repellent.

10. YOU CAN USE GARLIC TO MAKE GLUE.

The sticky juice that’s in garlic cloves is often used as an adhesive, especially for delicate projects that involve fragile items like glass. You just need to crush it to get to the sticky stuff which, despite its smell, works surprisingly well as a bonding agent for smaller jobs.

11. GARLIC CAN CLEAR UP SKIN TROUBLES.

You can battle both acne and cold sores with garlic, simply slice cloves in half and apply them directly to the skin. Hold for a bit, as long as you can stand and while the smell might not be the best, the antibacterial properties of the miracle plant will speed along the healing process.

Here is a great article by Food52 about buying and using garlic:

ARROWFOOD

11 Things You Might Not Have Known About Garlic

BY KATE ERBLAND APRIL 19, 2018

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National Garlic Day may be a holiday best celebrated alone—or with a hefty box of breath mints and a very charitable loved one—but few foods are as deserving of their very own day of recognition as the amazing, edible bulbous plant (okay, “bulbous plant” might not sound super appetizing, but it’s certainly accurate). Celebrate National Garlic Day on April 19 with your favorite garlic-laced meal and a few fun facts about this delicious, flavor-packed add-in that can do almost anything, from reducing your cholesterol to keeping vampires at bay.

1. YOU CAN EAT MORE THAN JUST THE STANDARD GARLIC CLOVE.

When you think “garlic,” you inevitably picture garlic cloves, but despite the ubiquity of that particular image of the plant, it’s not the only part you can eat. Hard-neck varieties of garlic produce “scapes,” green shoots that can be especially delicious and tender when they’re young. Think of them as garlic-flavored scallions. They also make a wonderful addition to pestos, soups, and butters.

2. CHINA PRODUCES THE MOST GARLIC.

Garlic is native to central Asia and has long popped up in European and African cooking, too. But it’s China that currently holds the record for most garlic grown. Per a 2012 study, China grows a staggering two-thirds of the world’s garlic, believed to be around 46 billion pounds per year.

3. AVERAGE CONSUMPTION OF GARLIC IS BELIEVED TO WEIGH IN AT AROUND TWO POUNDS PER PERSON.

Even with just two pounds, that means eating roughly 302 cloves per person per year, as each clove typically weighs about three grams.

4. GARLIC’S HEALTH BENEFITS ARE MYRIAD, INCLUDING AN ABILITY TO REDUCE CHOLESTEROL.

The best way to release the health-happy power of garlic is to cut it, which then turns garlic’s thio-sulfinite compounds into allicin, an antibiotic and antifungal that is believed to reduce “bad” cholesterol, as it inhibits enzymes from growing in liver cells.

5. ALLICIN IS ALSO GOOD AT COMBATING HEART DISEASE.

Allicin helps nitric oxide release in the blood vessels, relaxing them and thus bringing about a drop in blood pressure. Keeping blood vessels relaxed and lowering blood pressure is good for the heart and the rest of the vascular system (and it’s tasty).

6. GARLIC CONTAINS TONS OF VITAMINS, MINERALS, AND ANTIOXIDANTS THAT ARE GOOD FOR YOU, TOO.

The bulbs are packed with potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and Vitamin C.

7. GARLIC’S USE AS A HEALTH AID DATES BACK TO ANCIENT HISTORY.

It’s believed that Egyptian pharaohs plied their pyramid-builders with garlic for strength, and an ancient Egyptian medical document—the Ebers Papyrus—counts a stunning 22 different medicinal uses for the plant. Garlic also pops up in texts from Virgil, Pliny the Elder, Chaucer, and Galen, all of which detail its various uses and share lore about the magic plant.

8. DESPITE ITS ASIAN ORIGINS, ITS NAME IS DERIVED FROM ANGLO-SAXON SPEECH.

A combination of two Anglo-Saxon words—“gar” (spear) and “lac” (plant)—is believed to be the source of the plant’s name, specifically in reference to the shape of its leaves.

9. GARLIC’S REAL HEALTH BENEFITS ARE PROBABLY THE REASON FOR ONE OF ITS MOST PREVALENT MYTHS.

Garlic had long been recognized as a wonderful health aid before writer Bram Stoker introduced the concept of the vampire—a beast repelled by garlic—to the public with his 1897 novel DraculaIn the book, Van Helsing uses garlic as a protective agent, and it’s believed that Stoker lifted that idea from garlic’s many medicinal purposes, particularly as a mosquito repellent (think of the blood-sucking).

10. YOU CAN USE GARLIC TO MAKE GLUE.

The sticky juice that’s in garlic cloves is often used as an adhesive, especially for delicate projects that involve fragile items like glass. You just need to crush the cloves to get to the sticky stuff which, despite its smell, works surprisingly well as a bonding agent for smaller jobs.

11. GARLIC CAN CLEAR UP SKIN TROUBLES.

You can battle both acne and cold sores with garlic, simply by slicing cloves in half and applying them directly to the skin. Hold for a bit—as long as you can stand!—and while the smell might not be the best, the antibacterial properties of the miracle plant will speed along the healing process.

This is a great article from Food52 on how to buy and use garlic.

Garlic

There are many, many varieties of garlic, but they can all be classified as either hardneck or softneck garlic. Softneck garlic truly has a soft neck, meaning the central stalk is pliable enough to be manipulated — this is the type used to make garlic braids. Softneck garlic tends to be milder in flavor and to have more cloves per bulb (up to 20!); hardneck garlic, on the other hand, has fewer cloves but they’re larger (3, last photo) and easier to peel. 

When you buy garlic, as is true when you buy onions, you’re looking for hard, dry bulbs; like onions, they’ve been cured, which means they will last longer and store well. After being cured, the roots and stalk (1, photo below) are trimmed and the outermost layer of paper wrappers is removed. The garlic is ready to hang out in a cool, dry place in your home for months. Both types of garlic store well once cured, but softneck garlic will keep for a much longer time than hardneck, which is why you’ll usually find softneck garlic at grocery stores.

If stored long enough, you’ll eventually see little green sprouts in your garlic cloves. We generally don’t bother with removing them, but if you prefer to, just flick them out with the tip of a sharp knife. ( Iread once that they are a bit bitter, so I remove them)

Garlic

For those who think garlic is garlic, it isn’t all the same. Different varieties carry unique flavor profiles, but you’ll likely have to head to your local farmers market to try varieties like Inchelium Red, Kettle River Giant, Purple Glazer, and Sicilian Silver. Once you leave the supermarket, you’ll see more color variation, like purple streaks (2) in both the bulb wrappers and the cloves.

Once you get to know your local garlic farmer, you’ll have an easier time getting your hands on garlic at other stages of growth early season treats like green garlic and garlic scapes(the latter of which are only produced by hardneck garlic) and wet or fresh garlic (which is fully mature garlic that is eaten immediately after it has been harvested, without going through the curing process).

Garlic Cloves

If you’ve ever come across black garlic, that’s not a specific variety, it’s garlic that’s gone through fermentation and the flavor could be described as having a lot going on: “First there’s a hit of sweetness, followed by a faint hint of smoke, then a pungency that lingers long after the sweetness is gone.” If you’ve tried it and you weren’t immediately converted to its charms, cook with it, as the flavor changes with heat. 

For some, garlic cloves can be as aggravating as shallots. as recipes will call for a set number of cloves, but when heads of garlic can have such a wide range of clove sizes, there’s room for interpretation. We assume a mediumish-sized clove of garlic is about a half teaspoon once minced. 

Garlic

It’s hard to find a savory dish that we don’t like to use garlic in, but if garlic isn’t the first thing you reach for when you start cooking, we’ve got 5 ideas to get you started using more of it:

  • Pair garlic with your favorite protein: Try it with any protein
  • Introduce garlic to your favorite vegetable.
  • Make garlic bread or try grilling it.
  • Roast garlic to bring out its softer side.
  • Enjoy garlic in soup.
Garlic, I love you!

The Trick That Will Keep You From Ever Burning Your Garlic Again

I found this interesting article online this morning a site called “My Recipes”.  Since most of us love cooking with garlic and have most likely burned it somewhere along the way, I thought this information might be useful.

getty-garlic-image

Michael Goldman/Getty Images

Garlic might be one of the worst foods to burn, because there’s no turning back once you do. Unlike other veggies or meats that aren’t completely ruined if you just so happen to give them a little extra char than you intended for, garlic cannot withstand even 10 seconds too long over a flame. It turns black almost immediately and acquires an off-putting, bitter taste that can ruin an entire dish. The only fix to burning garlic is starting over.

So here’s how it usually happens: You’ve got your oil heating in a skillet, maybe with an onion or some other aromatics, and you add a clove or two of minced/finely chopped garlic. Seems legit, right? We’ve got to start building the flavor of this dish at some point, so we might as well start now. Ehhhh…sure, you can do this, but just know, that if you’re going to burn your garlic, this is how it’s done. Despite the lovely, garlicky aroma that will immediately engulf your kitchen upon dumping this fresh garlic into hot oil, this is oftentimes where things take a turn for the worst. Take your eyes away from that pan for more than a minute or two (especially if you turned on the heat with no abandon), and you’ve got yourself a handful of garlic that’s burned to a crisp. Not only that, but the oil and whatever other veggies are in that pan are going to taste pretty darn rotten, too.

Instead, if you simply punch down on a whole garlic clove with the side of your knife, gently crushing it so that it’s paper skin falls off and it’s slightly cracked open, you’ll still be able to impart that garlicky flavor into the oil. By prepping the garlic this way, you’ll avoid creating so much exposed surface area (like you do when you mince it) that the whole chopped clove immediately turns to a pile of ashes after 60 seconds of sizzling. Smaller bits burn quicker. If you really want to go the minced clove route, wait until the middle of your cooking process to add it to the concoction. This way, there’s less cooking time for your precious garlic to burn, and likely, more ingredients in the pan to help disperse the heat and act as a buffer for your delicate aromatic. Once you’ve got your slightly flattened cloves, put them in a skillet with oil (don’t be shy, a couple of generous glugs will do) over LOW HEAT. This temperature adjustment is crucial.

Once you’ve got your cloves gently cooking in oil over low heat, this is where the magic happens. Give the cloves some time to release their essence throughout the oil. As they start to cook, you can increase your heat to medium-high so that the white-ish cloves turn a warm, golden brown. If you rush this, however (shame, shame), your cloves are apt to turn black, so it’s important to keep a close eye. Before you go ahead and serve these babies, make sure that you’ve cooked them long enough. Because the cloves are whole, it’s going to take a little longer to soften and they may hold on to that raw, sharp taste.

When your cloves appear caramelized on the outside and creamy on the inside, you better be salivating, because you just created a garlic-infused oil. At this point, you can fish out the cloves, and add them to the blender to make a pesto, hummus or any other dip/sauce that could use a garlicky punch, or spread them atop a piece of toast, which should then rightfully be finished with a frizzled egg. One of my favorite restaurants, that is no longer open served baked garlic on toasted pita bread.  It was delicious. That and a nice Cabernet Sauvignon was delightful with conversation.  Not the best for a first date, if you live in “that” world.

With the wonderful oil that you’ve so carefully concocted, you can make stir-fries, one-pan pasta sauces, soups, or whatever dish you want to be laced with fresh, garlicky flavor. Ultimately, this is not the only way to cook garlic, however it’s, in my opinion, a foolproof method that consistently creates a pronounced yet not-too-overwhelming garlic flavor. And I’ve burnt garlic too many times to go back to my old ways.

Sara Tane wrote the original article.  January 2018

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The Trick That Will Keep You From Ever Burning Your Garlic Again

Garlic! Garlic! Garlic!

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I love the smell of cooking garlic and try to grow it in my garden every winter.  This year some critter enjoyed a lot of it before me, but there is still quite a bit left growing.

One of my friends on FB posted that we are now importing more garlic from China, so I was interested in the difference between the two.  First of all it is quite easy to identify the imported garlic, as the root has to be cut off to meet exportation law.

3-chinese-garlic-664x443

Or here is another photo:

china

Garlic is a nutritious vegetable that makes for a savory addition to many recipes. Yet new information has come to light that’ll probably change the way you buy and eat it.

You’d think your produce is grown in nearby farms, right? That could be wrong! You could very well be eating something that traveled halfway around the world to get to your grocery basket—and if you’re not careful, it may cause serious health risks.

In our culture, 80% of the garlic comes from China. In 2014, the United States imported over 138 million pounds of Chinese garlic, and each year the trend appears to grow. Since you’ve likely been eating this garlic for so long, you may not think it’s a problem—until you learn it’s often covered in bleach and pesticides.

Having driven by Gilroy and smelling it there, if you have been in the area you might assume all your American garlic comes from that area in California: Gilroy- “the garlic capital of the world”). Considering it was once the world’s largest supplier of garlic, that statement might’ve been true. That’s changed in the past few years.

In the US, it’s become cheaper and easier to import garlic from places like China. The unfortunate side of this is that China isn’t as stringent with its safety regulations. Reports run rampant of garlic bleached in chlorine, fumigated in pesticides, grown in untreated sewage water, and even contaminated with lead. If you have ever been to China, that would not be a surprise to you.

The bleach is used to cover up dirt spots, even though they’re perfectly natural. According to the Australian Garlic Industry Association‘s Henry Bell, while bleaching kills insects, prevents sprouting, and helps whiten the bulb, it’s fumigated with a dangerous toxin called methyl bromide. When taken in high doses, methyl bromide can cause central nervous system and respiratory problems. According to the UN, it’s 60 times more dangerous than chlorine—so the lower cost is not worth the risk. Luckily, you can easily tell the difference between Chinese and American garlic as I displayed in the photos above.

  1.  Look for the roots. Chinese importers have to remove the roots to abide by regulations, but American farmers have no such rule, and often leave them attached.
  2. Weigh it. Chinese garlic contains more water, so it’s lighter. It’s actually 37% solid, compared to the American 42%. To test it, give it a squeeze: a firmer bulb is the way to go!
  3. Taste it. Chefs swear that garlic from China has a bit of a metallic taste, while American bulbs are more flavorful. American garlic contains more allicin, which is the dominant factor in determining that distinct taste and smell we all love. CA garlic routinely scores a higher BRIX scale rating (sugar content)

Fun fact: garlic from China contains 3500 ppm (parts per million) of allicin, while American garlic has 4400 ppm.

It may cost a bit more, sure, but buying American garlic is safer and well worth it. If nothing else, it simply tastes better!

China is putting California garlic growers out of business, and YOU can stop it. Less than ten years ago, all of our garlic was grown in this country, primarily in CA. Now less than 40% is grown here and most of it (60%) is coming from China.

The roots being removed is required by the Ag Dept. to prevent soil-borne plant diseases from entering our country. If the roots are still there it is California garlic. The Garlic Growers Assoc. says not one single US grower cleans out the root end.

Share this important information with your friends!

Some, but not all information found on “Boredom Therapy”.

 

 

 

Garlic! Garlic! Garlic!