Also known as : Garlick, Knoblauch, Ajo, Ail, Aglio, Thum, Suen Tau, Suan, Knoflook, Sir, Garleag, Shum, Lasun, Ninniku, Alho, Chesnok, Bawang, Poondoo, Gratiem, Katiem, Sarmisak, Lehsun, Toi.
Garlic is a member of the same group of plants as the Onion; genus, Allium. Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek, chive, and rakkyo. The plant has been cultivated for so many thousands of years that much of its origins have become lost. With a history of human use of over 7,000 years. Garlic is native to central Asia. There has been some suggestion that it was first indigenous to the southwest of Siberia. From there, it spread to southern Europe and then to the rest of the world. The Mediterranean climate seems to fit it perfectly and has long been a staple in the Mediterranean region, as well as a frequent seasoning in Asia, Africa, and Europe.
It was known to Ancient Egyptians, and has been used for both culinary and medicinal purposes.
The leaves are long, narrow and flat. The bulb is of a compound nature, consisting of numerous bulblets, known technically as ‘cloves,’ grouped together between the membranous scales and enclosed within a whitish skin, which holds them as in a sac, a bulb composed of many individual cloves enclosed in a thin white, mauve or purple skin. The rather whitish flowers grow at the end of a stalk rising direct from the bulb. Pollination occurs by insects and bees.
Within the species, Allium sativum, there are also two main subspecies; varieties Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon; (called Ophioscorodon, or hard necked garlic, includes porcelain garlics, rocambole garlic, and purple stripe garlics.) and Allium sativum var. sativum; (soft-necked garlic, includes artichoke garlic, silverskin garlic, and creole garlic.).
Allium sativum grows in the wild in areas where it has become naturalized. The “wild garlic”, “crow garlic”, and “field garlic” of Britain are members of the species Allium ursinum, Allium vineale, and Allium oleraceum, respectively. In North America, Allium vineale (known as “wild garlic” or “crow garlic”) and Allium canadense, known as “meadow garlic” or “wild garlic” and “wild onion”, are common weeds in fields.
One of the best-known “garlics”, the so-called elephant garlic, is actually a wild leek (Allium ampeloprasum), and not a
true garlic. Single clove garlic (also called “pearl” or “solo garlic”) originated in the Yunnan province of China.
Chopping finely and/or pressing a clove exposes more surfaces to the air, causing a chemical reaction to produce that strong aroma and potent flavour.
Garlic is widely used around the world for its pungent flavour as a seasoning or condiment; with a spicy flavour that mellows and sweetens considerably with cooking. It has a bitter and strong flavour when fresh-fresh garlic is spicy, tangy and very juicy all into one. An easy rule of thumb to remember regarding the potency of the flavour of garlic is: The smaller you cut it, the stronger the flavour.
Health Benefits of Garlic
- Garlic’s history as a medicinal herb tracks back to the Greeks and Romans.
- Garlic has been used for a long time to prevent and treat all kinds of health problems including colds, flu, menstrual pain, Crohn’s disease, sinusitis, gastrointestinal problems, fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, warts and atherosclerosis to name a few.
- It has been used as herbal remedy for bronchitis, whooping cough, coughs, hoarseness and difficulty of breathing and other disorders of the lungs, including asthma.
- This herb is consumed to treat respiratory problems, high cholesterol, fatigue, stress, parasites, respiratory blockages and high fever.
- There are suggestions that garlic may be helpful as an herbal cancer remedy by reducing the size of cancerous tumors and that it can help prevent certain cancers that attack the intestines, such as colon cancer.
- It also has the ability to stave off bacteria and infections making it a proven cure for warts and other skin diseases.( Using the clove of the garlic and rubbing it directly on for warts and the like.)
The standout medicinal ingredient in the plant is ‘allicin’, which is said to have loads of anti-viral, anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal nutrients and properties.
Nutrients in Garlic
1.00 oz-wt (18.00 grams)
Buying and storing
Wonderful to use fresh as it is , available at all green grocers and markets. The garlic plant’s bulb is the most commonly used part of the plant. With the exception of the single clove types, garlic bulbs are normally divided into numerous fleshy sections called cloves.
Bulb garlic is available in many forms, including fresh, frozen, dried, fermented (black garlic) and shelf products (in tubes or jars), ranging from a form of oils, extracts, tablets and capsules. (Black garlic is a type of fermented garlic used as a food ingredient in Asian cuisine. It is made by fermenting whole bulbs of garlic at a very high temperature, a process that results in black cloves. The taste is sweet and syrupy with hints of balsamic.)
The edible parts of the plant (the leaves and flowers (bulbils) on the head (spathe) are sometimes eaten.) are also great for Cullinary use, Garlic cloves are used for consumption (raw or cooked) or for medicinal purposes.
Inedible or rarely eaten parts of the garlic plant include the “skin” and root cluster.
Dried garlic is sold either loose, in bunches or plaited into strings; generally speaking, the smaller the bulb, the stronger the flavour. Solo garlic (just one large clove) and the large-bulbed elephant garlic are also available, though the latter is, in fact, more closely related to the leek, and has a very mild flavour and soft texture.
If growing it a tip of advice So much good comes from a delicious garlic plant, that we may overlook that it doesn’t grow well next to everything.
When planting your garlic, avoid planting next to beans or peas. Garlic will inhibit the growth of both of these crops. So much good comes from a delicious garlic plant, that we may overlook that it doesn’t grow well next to everything.
Kept in an open container in a cool, dry place, dried, unbroken garlic bulbs will last for a couple of weeks. Separated cloves will keep for up to 10 days. Wet garlic should be kept in a cool, dark place and will last up to a week.
Peeled cloves may be stored in wine or vinegar in the refrigerator.
Commercially prepared oils are widely available. Manufacturers add acids and/or other chemicals to eliminate the risk of botulism in their products. If Garlic is mixed with oil this can be refrigerated and then consumed with 1 week.
Ideas with cooking with Garlic
- Garlic is one of the most indispensible ingredients around, and plays a central role in Mediterranean and Asian cookery.
- Use dried garlic or raw in dressings, salsas and butters; roast whole bulbs or individual cloves to serve with roast meat.
- Fry (slowly, for just a couple of minutes) to use as the base for sauces, casseroles, and soups.
- When garlic cloves are cooked or baked whole, the flavour mellows into a sweet, almost nutty flavour that hardly resembles any form of pungency. This nutty flavour makes a surprisingly nice addition to desserts, such as brownies or even ice cream.
- Garlic may be applied to different kinds of bread to create a variety of classic dishes, such as garlic bread, garlic toast, bruschetta, crostini and canapé.
- Oils can be flavoured with garlic cloves. These infused oils are used to season all categories of vegetables, meats, breads and pasta.
- Pickling garlic is also great; pickled for three to six weeks in a mixture of sugar, salt, and spices. ( Taking a garlic clove and (replacing an olive pip) stuffing it inside an olive and pickling it, is divine.)
- Garlic spears, stems and tops are often used in stir frying or braised like asparagus.
- The leaves are cut, cleaned, and then stir-fried with eggs, meat, or vegetables, popular in Asian Cuisine.
- Garlic powder has a different taste from fresh garlic. If used as a substitute for fresh garlic, 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder is equivalent to one clove of garlic, so use it cautiously.
For preparation here are some tips:
Using your fingers, divide the whole bulb into individual cloves (if you don’t want to use the whole bulb, just pull away the number of cloves you need and leave the rest of the bulb intact, as it will last longer that way). Remove any green shoots, as they taste bitter.
For crushed garlic, either use a garlic press (you don’t have to remove the skin) or lay the blade of a large knife on top of the clove and press it down hard with the heel of your hand. Then remove the skin. If you’d like to break it down even further, sprinkle with some salt and crush it again.
For chopped garlic, peel the skin off, then slice. You can then remove the skin. If any of the cloves have small green shoots, remove them before chopping, as they taste bitter.
Along with all of your favourite garlic recipes, try removing a slice of the top of an entire head of garlic, and wrap with foil. Roast the wrapped head on the grill or in the oven for an hour, then enjoy the rich, creamy cloves spread on some toasted crusty bread. Delicious! .
Garlic is a staple ingredient in many kitchens. Garlic cloves are easy to grow, although serious garden hobbyists will argue that there is much more to it than pushing a clove into the ground. This delicious plant should be an important part of your herb garden.
Garlic plants can be grown closely together, leaving enough space for the bulbs to mature, and are easily grown in containers of sufficient depth. When selecting garlic for planting, it is important to pick large heads from which to separate cloves. Large cloves, along with proper spacing in the planting bed, will also improve head size.
Garlic plants prefer to grow in a soil with a high organic material content, but are capable of growing in a wide range of soil
conditions and pH levels. Hardneck garlic is generally grown in cooler climates; softneck garlic is generally grown closer to the equator.