Certainly, if you have been watching the Food Channel, you no doubt have seen chefs use garlic in abundance. Let’s explore garlic!
Garlic has been used for both therapeutic and culinary purposes, and it is a staple in many cuisines. It is known to have anti-bacterial and anti-fungus properties.
History of Garlic
The word garlic originates from the Latin ‘garlec’, which comes from the Old Norse root ‘garlik’ meaning ‘to burn one’s nose by eating raw garlic’.
Garlic is a member of the lily family and, as a dried root, is native to central Asia. It has been widely used for more than 5,000 years! The ancient Egyptians were among the first to cultivate garlic and it was fed to workers who built the Great Pyramid at Giza. Ancient Greeks believed that eating garlic made athletes more competitive. The Romans also used it medicinally and as a cooking spice. Known as Russian penicillin, garlic has been used to treat ear infections, cholera, and typhus. As a natural antibiotic, garlic was used during both world wars as a disinfectant.
In the United States, garlic was first cultivated in New Orleans by French settlers and, subsequently, missionaries brought it to California where it is grown today.
Common Methods in Cooking Garlic
Garlic is one of the most powerful ingredients we have as cooks. It has so many benefits, from its flavor to its health benefits, garlic makes it easy for us to transform boring food into something flavorful and exciting! It’s the perfect way to add flavor without adding calories.
There are many ways to cook garlic, depending on what you are looking to do with it. Garlic can be used in a variety of dishes such as pasta, rice, and chicken.
The most popular methods for cooking garlic include roasting, sautéing, and simmering. These three methods all have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Roasting is the best method if you want to use garlic as an appetizer or in a cold dish. It is also the best option if you would like to keep the garlic’s flavor intact or plan on using the cloves whole (for example when making aioli).
How to Prepare Roasted Garlic
Roasting garlic can be done by using the oven, or a stove. The method used will depend on what you are using it for.
When roasting garlic, the oven is traditionally preferred to a stovetop as it provides an even heat distribution and cooks the cloves quickly.
1) Cut the top off of your head of garlic and peel away any excess skin from each clove.
2) Place in a small baking dish and drizzle with olive oil or butter
3) Season with salt, pepper, paprika (optional), and rosemary (optional).
4) Cover with foil or tin foil.
5) Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20-30 minutes until golden brown
On the other hand, sautéing maintains a lot of garlic’s flavor that roasting might lose. However, it can get messy because it requires more oil than roasting.
Sautéing garlic in oil before adding vegetables reduces the amount of time it takes to sauté and adds a delicious flavor. All you need to do is slice the garlic, heat up enough oil in a pan, preferably Olive Oil, add the sliced garlic and let it cook for five minutes or until browned but not burnt. Once this is done, you can add any vegetables you want (chopped onions are always good!)
How-to Clean Garlic Cloves Without Any Mess
Follow these steps to cut and clean garlic cloves without any mess.
Cut the end of the garlic clove off, but not so far that it is exposed.
Smack each clove with the flat side of a knife, then peel away from the skin.
Use a small spoon to scoop out any dirt or peeling pieces left on the garlic clove.
How To Keep Garlic Fresh
How To Find Out If Your Garlic Is Still Good
The best way to find out if your garlic is still good, is to cut-it in half to see if it is firm. If it is, then the garlic will taste great and if it isn’t, then the garlic will have a soft texture.
Another way would be smelling it; this could let you know whether or not there are any signs of spoilage on the inside of the clove.
How To Keep Garlic Fresh
Keeping garlic fresh for months can be a difficult task, but it doesn’t have to be. There are a number of ways to keep garlic fresh for months on end, so let’s take a look at how you can store it properly.
To store garlic so it doesn’t go bad, you’ll need to keep it in a cool, dry place with plenty of air circulation. This ensures that the garlic stays fresh for as long as possible and doesn’t spoil! However, cold temperatures will cause the garlic to sweeten with a less pungent taste. Storing garlic in the fridge is not recommended as it will cause the garlic to lose its flavor and become overly soft.
Garlic keeper: A garlic keeper may be one of the best ways to store garlic because it keeps your cloves dry and fresh without being exposed to any air whatsoever. Garlic keepers are typically made with silicone walls that seal off each individual compartment, preventing any exposure to light, moisture or air. The downside? You’ll need a bunch of them if you decide to grow your own garlic.
The BEST way to safely store garlic is to store it in vinegar! Choose a large jar fill it with peeled garlic cloves, leaving about an inch of headspace. You can add other fresh herbs or spices like peppercorns too! Then pour pickling vinegar or apple cider vinegar into the jar until all the cloves are covered in vinegar. Place a lid on the jar and store in the fridge. Don’t be afraid if the cloves turn green in the first couple of days, they will turn back to their natural color. The garlic stored this way should last about a year with no change in quality. Just be sure to rinse it off before using or you may get a vinegar taste. You can also use the infused vinegar to make salad dressings or in other savory recipes calling for vinegar, it’s delicious!
A lot of people talk about storing garlic in oil. A lot of people also get botulism from this. You can store the cloves in oil but then it needs to be kept in the FREEZER. Put the peeled cloves 2-4 enough for one use, in a dry container and fill with olive oil. Make sure the garlic cloves are completely submerged and freeze. The garlic will keep for several months. Once thawed the oil can also be used. NOTE: this is the only safe way to store garlic in oil.
This is the first article on garlic! Look in the Garden section on how to grow garlic in containers!