There is nothing I like better than cooking with garlic. It is so versatile and the flavor is absolutely delicious. Too bad I wasn’t born Italian.
Of course the Italians aren’t the only people that use it. It is used extensively in the Middle East, China, France and probably the rest of the world.
Using garlic for flavoring your food is only one of the benefits. It is healthy and if you read further down there are many pointers for you to look at.
It is also very inexpensive and should be in every kitchen.
Can you imagine a really good spaghetti sauce that wasn’t made with garlic? I certainly can’t. Or how about the garlic toast that is served with it? Yummy!!
If you live in a tropical area like I do and there are dozens of biting insects then you might try what I do. I take a garlic capsule every day and it keeps those little devils from biting me. No, it does not leave you smelling like garlic either, so don’t worry.
So you see, garlic is very versatile and used
for many things besides keeping vampires away. People used to wear a necklace of garlic for that purpose. Can’t say I would go that far.
The Ins and Outs of Buying and Storing
- Buy firm, dry bulbs with papery skin.
- Avoid wet, soft bulbs.
- Avoid bulbs with green shoots coming out.
- Storing Garlic:
- Store in a cool dry location.
- Store in a paper bag.
- There are garlic pots that you can purchase for storing your garlic.
- Keep away from foods that may pick up the strong flavor.
Peel away the outer papery skin with your fingers before separating the cloves from the bulb.
Use the flat side of a butcher knife to remove the skin from the individual cloves. Press firmly with the flat side of a butcher knife on a clove to loosen the skin.
Slicing and Dicing
Diced garlic is easily accomplished after the skin is peeled away from the individual cloves. Simply lay the peeled clove on a cutting surface and using a rocking motion with a sharp chefs knife cut the clove into pieces. Then turn the clove and cut it into smaller pieces.
Minced garlic is best accomplished using a garlic press. When using a garlic press do not peel the skin from the garlic. Place several garlic cloves in the press and press down squeezing the minced garlic out the other side of the press.
Sliced garlic is thin slices of garlic. A garlic mandoline is the easiest way to make garlic slices. Place the peeled garlic cloves in the mandoline holder and push from the top to the bottom.
Uses for Diced, Minced and Sliced Garlic
Diced: this version is heartier than the other two. It is best used in soups, stews and in sautés.
Minced: this version is more delicate than diced and burns easily. It is best used in light sauces, vinaigrettes and salad dressings.
Sliced: this version is light and delicate and gives a wonderful flavor. It is best used in sauces and with meat.
Garlic for Health
For those who think raw garlic “bites”, briefly cook in microwave, water, a small amount of oil, or mix in many foods.
Garlic oil from crushed cloves or garlic capsules can heal surface infections, cuts, herpes blisters, and other ailments.
Before you get carried away with pills, capsules, and other sources of concentrated garlic goodness, be aware that the Mayo Clinic says, “Unfortunately, garlic is most effective when you eat it raw and in large amounts.
I remember reading that Eleanor Roosevelt ate several cloves of raw garlic every day, which she covered with honey, because she hated the taste. The garlic was not the only reason, but she did live a long active life.
Garlic: A Quick Guide
Garlic, there’s nothing like the smell of it. Its great in soups and sauces, roasted with meats or on its own, and it’s wonderful mixed with butter and slathered on bread and then baked.
The scientific name for garlic is Allium Sativum. It is related to the lily and the onion. Although related to the onion, and having a flavor that very slightly resembles that of an onion, garlic does not bring tears to the eyes when chopped.
The strong flavor and odor of garlic come from sulfur compounds within the cells. The more cells that are broken, the stronger the flavor of the garlic will be.
For the mildest flavor, just use a whole or slightly crushed clove of garlic. For a bit stronger flavor, slice or chop the garlic, and for the strongest flavor, mash the garlic into a paste.
Cooking garlic tames the strong flavor, and changes it in different ways, depending on how it’s cooked.
Tips for cooking with garlic:
Before cooking, remove the exterior skin of the clove. There are many ways to do this: strike the bulb with the broad side of a kitchen knife, use a rubber garlic rolling tube, soak the garlic in lukewarm water for 30 minutes or dip the cloves into boiling water for 30 seconds.
After skinning the garlic, select a cooking method that will result in the appropriate flavor. It can be sautéed to create a nutty, savory taste; poached to create a mild flavor; oven-roasted to bring out the nutty flavor with a caramelized quality; fried to create a crisp exterior; or grilled to create a soft, smoky flavor.
Garlic is very sensitive to heat and will burn easily, especially when sautéing. Expose the garlic to heat just until the oil sizzles and then remove it. When cooking garlic with onions, start the onions first. They will take longer to cook.
If using in a sauce, it can be sweated or sautéed. In sweating the garlic, it is first chopped finely, and then added to a cold pan with some oil, it is then gently heated, causing the oil to become infused with the garlic flavor.
To sauté garlic, heat the oil in the pan first, and then add the chopped garlic, stirring frequently, and being careful not to let the garlic burn and become bitter.
Roasting the garlic softens the flavor, and makes it soft and perfect for mixing with cream cheese to spread onto toast, or just spread on the toast itself.
To roast the garlic, take a whole head of garlic, and remove the papery outer skin. Place the garlic on a piece of aluminum foil, and drizzle with some olive oil. Loosely wrap the garlic in the foil, and place it into a 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Remove the garlic and let it cool. When cool enough to handle, separate the cloves of garlic, and squeeze each one. The flesh should pop right out. The roasted garlic is great mixed with cheese or potatoes, or on its own.
Don’t be afraid to use garlic in your cooking. Garlic is flavorful, and healthful.
Garlic – A Great Healing Herb
Garlic is a wonderful healing herb and, unlike many of the other herbs, it tastes great and can be incorporated into a variety of meals.
Garlic has been used for over 5000 years as a healing herb and has strong antibacterial, and antiviral properties. But its health benefits extend well beyond its infection fighting properties. It is also reputed to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure as well as help protect against heart disease and stroke.
And the benefits of garlic don’t stop there. A recent study has shown that taking a garlic supplement once a day can reduce the risk of getting a cold by 50% and help you gain a speedy recovery if you do happen to catch one. In fact, I tried this out recently when I felt a sore throat coming on – I toasted a piece of bread and added some raw crushed garlic to it. It was a bit pungent but I woke up the next day good as new!
Aside from colds, garlic has historically been used as a remedy for infections, athletes foot, worms, respiratory ailments, some cancers of the stomach, colic, ear aches, bladder problems and high blood pressure.
Garlic is jut plain good for you too! It is loaded with vitamins and minerals including Vitamin A, B and C, selenium, potassium, calcium, zinc and magnesium. But in order to reap the benefits, you must prepare it in a certain way.
Researchers say it is the allicin that is released when garlic is crushed. If you are trying to serve yourself a garlic herbal remedy by adding garlic to your foods then make sure you crush it a bit ahead of time and don’t add until the final 5 minutes of cooking. This will give the allicin enough time to develop and will insure you don’t cook all the garlic health out of it.
Cooked garlic will not have as much benefit as raw and whole garlic cloves.
Another way to incorporate garlic into your meals without cooking is to make garlic bread where you crush the gloves into a paste; butter the toasted bread and spread the garlic on it – Yum!
Garlic can have an affect on blood clotting, so don’t start taking supplements unless you discuss it with your physician first especially if you are on blood thinning medication or due to have surgery in the near future.
Some of the Benefits of Garlic
Today, there is worldwide scientific evidence to support the many health benefits that can be derived from the daily consumption of garlic. Extensive tests on humans have concluded that a regular intake of garlic can:
Lower total cholesterol (but raise the good-type HDL cholesterol)
Produce more “natural killer” cells in the blood that will tackle infections and tumors
Lower blood pressure
Reduce the risk of blood clots (that are responsible for most heart attacks and strokes)
Destroy infection causing viruses and bacteria
Garlic is classified as both an herb and a vegetable. It can be found in products ranging from ice cream to dry rubs; the versatility of this herb is seemingly endless.
Did you know there is a Garlic Festival every year in Gilroy, California? It is really a wild time and the way they use garlic is amazing. It is held the last full weekend in July.
In fact, in my research, I found that there are Garlic Festivals around the world.
There are many articles written about garlic. I picked the one below, because I found it the most interesting.
History of Garlic around the World
By Kathleen Zimmerman
Around the world, for over 4,000 years, garlic has held many important roles in daily human life. It has been taken therapeutically and nutritionally. Folklore attributes garlic with good luck and protection against evil. The smell was said to ward off sorcerers, werewolves, warlocks, and-of course-vampires.
An Egyptian papyrus from 1,500 B.C. recommends garlic for 22 ailments. The Egyptians fed it to slaves building the pyramids, to increase their stamina. In ancient Greece and Rome, it was claimed to have more uses, like repelling scorpions, treating dog bites and bladder infections, curing leprosy and asthma. In the Middle Ages it was thought to prevent the plague.
Beyond superstition, modern research has confirmed what our ancestors believed and practiced for the health benefits of garlic. Research in 1858, by Louis Pasteur, documented that garlic kills bacteria. During World War II, when penicillin and sulfa drugs were scarce, garlic was used as an antiseptic to disinfect open wounds and prevent gangrene. The properties responsible for these medicinal effects are not clearly understood. Recent research identifies hundreds of volatile sulfur compounds in the herb. Surprisingly, the way garlic is prepared appears to affect its healing qualities.
When the clove is cut or crushed, an enzyme contained within the plant cells combines with an amino acid. This creates a new compound, called allicin, which has been shown to kill 23 types of bacteria, including salmonella and staphylococcus.
When garlic is heated, a different compound is formed that can prevent arteries from clogging, and reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The blood-thinning quality of garlic may also be helpful in preventing heart attacks and strokes.
Garlic may even prevent cancer because it contains vitamins such as C, A, and B which stimulates the immune system to eliminate toxins and combat carcinogens. For the same reason, it may also become a valuable treatment for AIDS. A study in China showed that people with the highest levels of dietary garlic have a reduced risk of stomach cancer.
It can also kill 60 types of fungi and yeast, among them are the common causes of athlete¼s foot and vaginitis. During a vaginal yeast infection, one clove of garlic inserted into the entrance of the vagina will be as effective in alleviating itching than the most expensive over-the-counter anti-itch creme or suppository. Better yet, it’s much cheaper.
Experts split on the recommended daily amount of dietary garlic, from one to ten cloves. However, most agree that fresh garlic is better than in supplement form.
Can too much of a good thing be bad? As with anything else, certain people will experience a food allergy to garlic. While large amounts of raw garlic can be irritating to the digestive tract and some people may experience flatulence, by far the largest complaint about garlic is aesthetics. Many people avoid garlic for fear of offending their neighbor or hot date. For that, herbalists recommend chewing fennel seeds, or that parsley garnish on your plate.
Public awareness about the health benefits of garlic increased dramatically two years ago, when the findings were released regarding a study of garlic funded by a $176,000 grant from the FDA. It preempted the surge in the number of garlic supplements on the market. This study also made possible the official recognition of garlic as at least a health food and at most medicine.
I hope you enjoyed reading about garlic and if you haven’t tried it, then maybe you will. Enjoy!!