Garlic 101 – The Basics

Garlic is an herb that is used to flavor MANY foods. It’s also used for medicinal purposes and that practice has been traced back to ancient Egypt. Below is a video about garlic including nutritional and medicinal aspects of garlic, how to select, store, and use garlic, and lots more information! Below the video are my video notes for your personal use. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!

Garlic 101 – The Basics

About Garlic
Garlic is an herb that is grown around the world. It is a member of the allium family, so it is related to onions, leeks and chives. Garlic is a common seasoning used worldwide for thousands of years. It was used in ancient Egypt as both a food and a medicine. China produces about 80% of the world’s garlic supply.

Nutrition Tidbits
Garlic packs a nutritional punch with good amounts of potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin (a carotenoid found in the retina of the eye), and Vitamin C.

Garlic produces allicin when it is chopped, chewed, or bruised. Allicin gives garlic its classic aroma, and is the active ingredient that appears to help treat so many ailments. Some people take odorless garlic supplements that have the allicin removed. This type of garlic is not as effective for medicinal uses. Enteric coated supplements (that contain allicin) can be used instead of the odorless capsules.

Garlic also contains germanium, an element that also has anti-cancer properties. Garlic contains more germanium than any other herb. Garlic now tops the American National Cancer Institute’s list of potential cancer-preventative foods.

Garlic has been used to treat heart disease, various cancers, enlarged prostate, diabetes, arthritis, allergies, flu, fungal infections, oral thrush, diarrhea, and more (a LONG list!). Research has shown that garlic does help to treat many of the ailments it’s used for. Its antibacterial and antifungal properties help in the treatment of various conditions.

Important note…Garlic can interact with some medications. If you are taking prescription drugs for any reason, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it’s OK to take any garlic supplements you are considering.

Dr. Michael Greger has a number of videos on his website discussing medicinal uses of garlic. Here’s a link …

How to Select Garlic
Look for a solid, healthy looking bulb that is compact with taut, unbroken skin. Avoid any bulbs that are damp, have soft spots on them, or have started sprouting. A heavy, firm bulb indicates one that is fresh and flavorful. If it feels light, it may be dried out.

How to Store Garlic
Garlic keeps longest when stored at 60 to 65 degrees and in moderate humidity. At room temperature, it can be kept hanging in mesh bags or in loosely woven baskets.

Garlic can be keep in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. But once put in there, it needs to be kept there until needed. If refrigerated then removed for storage at room temperature, it will soon begin to sprout.

Leftover peeled cloves or chopped garlic will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge in a small, tightly covered container.

You can freeze garlic, though some people think frozen garlic isn’t quite as good as fresh. Put peeled cloves into a food processor or blender with a little water, pulse until they are evenly minced, and then freeze the puree in ice cube trays. Another way is to spread it out in a thin (and eventually breakable) layer on a silicone sheet. Once frozen, store the cubes or pieces in an airtight container.

Fresh garlic can be dehydrated. Peel and slice the garlic, then follow your dehydrator manufacturer’s instructions for time and temperature to dry your garlic. Note that this WILL make your house have a strong garlic odor!

Pickled garlic is an easy way to mellow out the flavor while preserving your garlic until you need it. Put peeled garlic cloves into a jar with some salt and vinegar. Store it in the refrigerator and use as needed. They will keep that way indefinitely.

How to Prepare Garlic
Peel away as many of the outside papery layers as possible and discard.

If cloves are tight and can’t be easily pulled free, use the ball of your hand to press and roll the garlic against your cutting board to loosen the cloves.

Slice off the end of the clove, where it was attached to the bulb. Then place the clove beneath your chef’s knife and whack the knife with your other hand; this will loosen skin. Remove and discard any skins.

Start by slicing the clove. For a fine chop, hold the tip of the knife with one hand and use the other to rock blade back and forth over your slices.

For garlic that’s almost pulverized, place a clove into a garlic press and press down until the whole clove comes through the holes.
Cooking/Serving Methods

Fresh garlic can be roasted, sautéed, added to soups, stews, casseroles and sauces, added to pizza toppings, and a whole host of dishes. Also, it can be used to flavor oil, and pickled (as above). It is usually used to flavor other foods rather than eaten alone. Below are some tips on cooking with garlic.

To roast a garlic bulb, lightly grease a casserole dish with olive oil, add some clean bulbs, and bake at 350F until the bulbs are soft, usually about 45 minutes. Cut the tips off the bulbs and cloves and squeeze out the now soft flesh. If needed, freeze the garlic in an airtight freezer container; it will last about a week in the fridge. The high oil content means it never freezes hard, and you can scoop the clove contents out with a spoon as needed.

Another way to roast garlic is to preheat the oven to 400F. Slice the top off of a bulb of garlic and place the bulb on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle the bulb with oil and wrap it with the foil. Place on a baking sheet and roast until the bulbs are lightly browned and tender, about 30 minutes.

Garlic can burn easily and burned garlic is not enjoyable (it’s bitter). To keep from burning your garlic, add it toward the end of sautéing onions or other vegetables. It can be added early in the sautéing process if it’s of a short duration.

To get the most allicin from your garlic, use fresh garlic rather than jarred. Allicin dissipates within days of being stored in water, as in jarred minced garlic. Also, cutting your garlic when you’re ready to use it, then letting it sit for 10 to 15 minutes will yield the most allicin it has to offer. When garlic is cut, oxygen reacts with enzymes in the garlic, which triggers the formation of allicin. Waiting that brief time from cutting to using garlic allows time for the reaction to take place.

Flavor: The more you cut garlic cell walls, the stronger the flavor will be. To get a mild garlic flavor, slice it. To get a strong flavor, crush the garlic. Coarsely chopped garlic will have a flavor in between the two.

Also, the longer your garlic cooks in with other foods, the less flavor it will impart. To get the most garlic flavor, add the garlic toward the end of cooking.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well With Garlic
The robust flavor of garlic can add subtlety or intensity to food depending upon how it’s cut and when it’s added to the food. It goes well with most herbs, but use it sparingly with chervil, chives, lemon balm and mint.

Foods That Go Well With Garlic
Garlic is commonly used with meats, fish, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and other leafy greens, eggplant, tomatoes, salads, salad dressings, pasta sauces, quinoa, vegetables, cheese dishes, butter (as in garlic butter), and garlic bread. Garlic is used to flavor MANY foods, so know that this list is not all-inclusive.

Recipe Links
4 Tips for How to Cook With Garlic

Creamy Roasted Garlic Potato Soup with Crispy Brussels and Chili Oil

30 Recipes for Garlic Lovers

21 Recipes Every Garlic Lover Should Know!garlic-sauce


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