garlic bulb: photo by gourmetsleuth.com
Part of the lily family, garlic is is closely related to shallots, garlic-chives, and leeks.
Article by: Barbara Bowman
Garlic (Allium sativum
common garlic) is part of the "lily
family and is closely related to shallots, garlic-chives, and leeks. The bulb
is made of a series of bulblets called cloves. The garlic bulb has a papery
exterior skin that varies in color from white to purple. There are many varieties of garlic
with the "sativum" or "softneck" being the most common variety.
has been cultivated since ancient times. It was said that Egyptian masters fed
garlic to the slaves to increase the worker's physical power. In modern times
it is used as a popular flavoring in cooking. It can be eaten raw or
Garlic's medicinal uses include digestive stimulant, diuretic,
and antispasmodic. Additionally, many studies have been done to show the value
of garlic when used to prevent certain forms of cancer as well as beneficial to
heart health. (Read more
There are many varieties of garlic available. The most common (and most
pungent) variety is the white skinned garlic grown mostly in the U.S. The
slightly less pungent purple skinned garlic is grown in Mexico and Italy. Most
of the garlic in the United States is grown in California, Louisiana, and Texas.
The other largest world wide producers are France, Spain, Italy and Mexico.
Another type of garlic you may find in your grocery store is Elephant garlic.
This large bulb is really a type of "leek" and does not have a very strong
(stalkless) is the most common and popular garlic variety. It is the easiest to
grow being very adaptable in a variety of climates and soils. These types of
garlic are very productive and produce many smaller cloves per plant than other
varieties and also are very popular for braiding. The garlic flavor ranges from
very mild to very hot and lack the subtle but more complex flavors of the
hardneck varieties. Softneck garlic can be stored longer than any other type, in
fact, up to 10 months under optimum conditions. Two categories of this type
include Artichoke garlic and Silverskin. Softneck garlic can be spring planted
in some regions with "limited" success.
The Hardneck garlic produces a
"woody" flower stalk. The cloves are much larger than the Softneck and easier
to peel. Garlic of this type have more complex and interesting flavor than
other varieties. This variety does not keep as long, in fact, a midsummer
harvest may only store until January.
You can vary the amount of garlic flavor released by how you prepare the garlic.
The more juices and oils extracted, the more garlic flavor will be incorporated
into the food.Pressing
- Garlic put through a garlic
press or pureed release the most garlic oils and therefore provides the
strongest garlic flavor. Crushing
- Releases the
pungent flavor and natural juices of garlic. Good for use in sauces when you
want a strong garlic flavor.Minced
- Finely minced
garlic will release more oils than chopped or sliced garlic, but less than
pressed or crushed. Great for flavoring oil to be used for
- The chopping process does not
extract a large amount of juice or oil. The amount of flavor obtained will
depend on how small the garlic is chopped and allowed to dissolve in the cooking
process. This method is good for use in salsas and
- Slices or larger pieces of garlic
won't completely dissolve when cooked resulting in a lighter garlic
- Garlic browned in oil imparts a very
strong nutty favorite. While some recipes suggest browning others will warn
against it. Try browning some minced garlic in a small amount of olive oil and
see if you like the flavor.
Fresh - Purchase in the grocery store or grow your own.
Peeled Cloves - Look for in the refrigerated section of your grocery store.
Powdered - This is garlic that has been dried and
pulverized. Adds a mild garlic flavor to foods. 1/8 teaspoon of
garlic powder is equal to approximately 1 minced garlic
Dehydrated Flakes - This is minced
garlic which has been dried. It can be added to foods before cooking or it can
be put in water and rehydrated before use. This form of garlic gives much of
the garlic flavor with a similar texture when rehydrated. 1/2
teaspoon is equivalent to 1 garlic
Puree - Mashed fresh garlic
preserved in a jar.
Garlic Juice/Extract - This is
just the liquid from pressed garlic. It is available in a spray bottle.
Infused Garlic Oil - This is made of vegetable or olive
oil with minced garlic added. To make your own, add 1 teaspoon or more finely
minced garlic to one cup of vegetable or olive oil. Allow to sit for 24 hours
before using for maximum flavor.
Garlic is available "green" as a spring
crop. Garlic at this growth stage looks like a scallion (green onion) and is
very mild. Read More about Green Garlic
GourmetSleuth. The article includes how to use, store, and grow your own garlic.
Includes links to many more recipes as well.
1 head or bulb = (about) 10 cloves.
clove = 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon Chopped
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic flakes
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic