[CnD] Garlic

Rhonda Scott earthmagic7 at sbcglobal.net
Sun Feb 12 17:28:25 GMT 2012


Garlic

Garlic is one of the most versatile flavors to ever grace a kitchen. It not
only tastes wonderful, it's very good for your body. Learn about Mother
Nature's most precious gift to cooks of all levels of expertise. You
don't have
to be dodging vampires to love garlic!

Garlic (allium sativum) has lovingly been dubbed The Stinking Rose, yet
it is
actually a member of the lily (Liliaceae) family and a cousin to onions,
leeks,
chives, and shallots. The edible bulb or head of garlic is composed of
smaller
cloves. It's a root crop, with the bulb growing underground. Crops are
harvested in mid-July and hung in sheds to dry before reaching their
prime in
late-July/early-August.

There are over 300 varieties of garlic grown worldwide. American garlic,
with
its white, papery skin and strong flavor is one of the most common
varieties.
Italian and Mexican garlic, both of which have pink- to purple-colored
skins,
are slightly milder-flavored varieties. Elephant garlic (allium
scorodoprasum),
which has very large, extremely mild-flavored cloves, is not a true
garlic, but
a closer relative to the leek.

Garlic has long been considered a medicinal food, being used to protect
against
plague by monks of the Middle Ages. Hippocrates used garlic vapors to treat
cervical cancer, and garlic poultices were placed on wounds during World
War II
as an inexpensive, and apparently quite effective replacement for
antibiotics,
which were scarce during wartime.

Now science is beginning to prove the medicinal properties of garlic
that our
ancestors took for granted. Studies have shown garlic can suppress the
growth
of tumors, and is a potent antioxidant good for cardiovascular health. Other
studies show garlic can reduce LDL or "bad" cholesterol and is a good
blood-thinning agent to avoid blood clots that could lead to heart attack or
stroke. All this at only 4 calories per clove!

Believe it or not, one raw garlic clove, finely minced or pressed
releases more
flavor than a dozen cooked whole cloves. When garlic cloves are cooked
or baked
whole, the flavor mellows into a sweet, almost nutty flavor that hardly
resembles any form of pungency. This nutty flavor makes a surprisingly nice
addition to desserts, such as brownies or even ice cream. Whole, unpierced
cloves barely have any aroma at all, while raw garlic is the strongest in
flavor. When sautéing garlic, be very careful not to burn it. The flavor
turns
intensely bitter, and you'll have to start over.

Selection and Storage:
Choose heads that are firm to the touch, with no nicks or soft cloves.
If you
notice dark, powdery patches under the skin, pass it up since it's an
indication of a common mold which will eventually spoil the flesh. Store
unpeeled in an open container in a cool, dry place away from other foods. Do
not refrigerate or freeze unpeeled garlic. As garlic ages, it will begin to
produce green sprouts in the center of each clove. These infant green
sprouts
can be bitter, so discard them before chopping the garlic for your recipe.
However, if you plant the cloves and let them sprout to a height of
about six
inches, you can use the sprouts like chives in salads and such. Properly
stored
garlic can keep up to three months.

To peel a clove, place it on a cutting board on its side, and gently
press down
quickly with the flat side of a butcher knife. The skin should then
easily peel
off. If you find the skin clinging desperately to the clove,
congratulations!
You have fresh garlic. As garlic ages, it shrivels inside the skin,
making it
easier to peel.

Garlic can also be purchased as peeled whole cloves or minced, both
stored in
olive or vegetable oil. It's imperative that garlic in oil be stored under
refrigeration to avoid potentially-deadly bacteria growth. If you use a
lot of
garlic and wish to cut your preparation time down, you can also pre-peel and
store your own in olive oil in the refrigerator, but the best flavor
will come
from freshly-peeled cloves. Use garlic powder, garlic salt, and garlic
extract
(juice) only as a last resort.

Source : An e-friend



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