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Garlic

Contributed by: Jennifer Wickes

History / Geography

There is evidence to show that garlic has been cultivated for over 6000 years. The ancient Egyptians felt garlic provided strength, therefore, they fed it to their slaves while they were building the pyramids.

Major exporters of garlic today are: California, Texas, Louisiana, France, Spain, Italy and Mexico.

Gilroy, California has been named "The Garlic Capital of the World"!

Science

Garlic is a part of the lily family, directly related to leeks, onions, chives and shallots. Garlic grows under the ground as a bulb. The bulb is divided into sections known as cloves.

Varieties

There are three types of garlic used in the United States: Mexican and Italian (both a milder garlic), and American (a much stronger flavored garlic). Elephant garlic is not considered a true garlic, but is also related to the leek.

Season

Garlic is available year-round!

How to Select

Purchase your bulbs that are firm and fat with a dry skin. You do not want to see any black spots near the stem end. This is a sign of mildew. You, also, do not want to purchase any garlic that is being housed in the refrigerated section of your grocery store.

Storage Store garlic in an open container in a cool dark place for 8 weeks. If the bulb has been broken, then use the entire bulb within 10 days.

Nutritional Qualities

Potassium, Vitamin C, Phosphorus, Magnesium and Sulphur.

Garlic also has anti-viral and anti-bacterial qualities. Consuming garlic actually helps lower cholesterol, thin the blood, lower blood sugar, reduce blood pressure, reduce muscle cramps and spasms, aids in lung ailments and can be used for getting rid of intestinal worms!

Historically, garlic has also been used to treat toothaches, open wounds, help cue insane people and even chase away evil spirits, like vampires! Some even believed that garlic helps improve one's sex life! Roman soldiers felt that garlic gave them courage, so they ate garlic before a battle!

Trivia

Smaller bulbs of garlic can be 20 times stronger than larger bulbs.

Essential oils within garlic are very easily absorbed into the body. So, garlic can remain on your breath and perspired through your pores up to 2 days after you have consumed garlic!

Garlic placed around fruit trees, can help keep rodents away. Also, garlic is great at keeping aphids and fleas at bay!

Garlic Lovers

Homer, Moses, Aristotle, Pliny, Hippocrates.

Garlic Haters

Shakespeare, Louis XV, Horace.

Equivalencies

1 clove = 1/8 tsp. garlic powder

Preparation

Unless you are roasting a bulb of garlic, or making "Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic", most cloves are peeled before utilizing. Then, the garlic can be used whole, sliced, chopped, or minced. Garlic flavor mellows with cooking.

Recipes

Chile-Garlic Almonds

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon garlic - minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chiles
  • 3 cups blanched almonds
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet, over a moderate flame. Add garlic and saute until fragrant. Add chiles and saute for 10 seconds. Add almonds, heat and stir until lightly toasted. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Store in an airtight container for up to 14 days. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Yields: 12 servings

Garlic Bean Soup

  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 8 garlic cloves - peeled
  • 1 onion - chopped
  • 4 cups white beans, cooked

Put broth, garlic, and onion in large bowl; cover. Microwave for 20 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Transfer to a blender or food processor. Add half the beans and puree. Return soup to bowl. Add remaining beans and microwave 5 minutes or until beans are heated through.

Yields: 6 servings

Roasted Garlic and Bean Dip

  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil AND 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 medium cooking onion - diced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
  • 2 cups cooked white pea beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper

To roast garlic, remove papery outer layer of skin and trim a small portion off the top of the head to expose cloves. Place on a square of aluminum foil. Drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil. Seal package and place in a 400F oven for 40 minutes. Remove fnonstick and let cool.

While garlic is roasting, heat the remaining olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook the onion and sage together until the onions are soft. Set aside.

In a food processor combine the onion mixture, beans, vinegar, salt and pepper. Squeeze roasted garlic from each clove and add to the mixture. Process until smooth. (If necessary, add water to create a smooth mixture.)

Serve warm or at room temperature with grilled bread and vegetables.

Yields: 18 servings

Jennifer A. Wickes is a freelance food writer, researcher and cookbook reviewer. She has written several eBooks, and has had numerous articles and recipes in printed publications, as well as on- line. She is working on her first cookbook. For more information about Jennifer or her work, please visit her home page: http://home.comcast.net/~culinaryjen/Home.html


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