Cooking for Beginners: Garlic

Transitioning to real food means learning to buy and prepare new ingredients. Each post in this series will introduce you to a food with which you may never have cooked. Let’s get to know fresh, new ingredients.

Oh my, the smell and taste of fresh garlic. Almost every savory dish is enhanced by its pungent taste. Assuming you are not sensitive to it – and some people are – fresh garlic is definitely one ingredient you’ll want to incorporate into your cooking.

Garlic is sold in stores by the head.


Head of Garlic

A head is made up of cloves.


A Garlic Clove

In the store, look for a head without spots and make sure the garlic hasn’t sprouted. You can also do a smell test. If it has a strong garlic smell, it is overripe - don’t buy it.

Storing Garlic
When you get the garlic home, store it in a dry place. It doesn’t need refrigeration.

Peeling Garlic
To peel a clove of garlic, cut off either end with a sharp knife. Then gently bash the clove with your fist on the side of a large knife or with your palm.

Don’t completely smash it to a pulp – just enough to loosen the peel. It should slip off easily.

Crushed Garlic
Often when a recipe calls for garlic, it asks for crushed garlic. For this you’ll need a garlic press. It’s always a good idea to clean the press before the garlic dries and gets stuck to it.

Sliced Garlic
I often prefer to slice my garlic very thinly instead of crushing it. When you do this, let it sit on the cutting board for about 10 minutes before using. This allows the allicin, reported to be medicinal, to form naturally from alliin after the garlic is cut.

Medicinal Qualities of Garlic
Garlic is revered in many cultures as a medicinal food. Western medicine has also recognized garlic as a food that provides benefits such as lowering levels of triglycerides, blocking formation of cancer cells and more. [1] The Western medical jury is still out on exactly how helpful garlic is, what it is good for, and what it is in the garlic that does the trick.

While they work that out, (usually in studies carried out using isolated components of garlic), I prefer to go the real food route and put garlic in my stew and salad dressing rather than take a garlic supplement for its health benefits.

Type of Garlic
Garlic powder is a very sorry substitute for real garlic and people who use it should be shot. I don’t advise you to buy it.

Frozen garlic is readily available in Israel in supermarkets. I confess that I used it for years, simply because it saved time. It isn’t as bad as garlic powder, but it gives a different taste quality that isn’t quite right. I think it is worth the few extra moments it takes to use real garlic.
 
Cooking with Garlic
It takes only a minute to burn garlic if you add it alone to oil or butter. Burnt garlic is very bitter and its taste will not be masked by the other ingredients in your dish. 

Getting Rid of Garlicy Smells
There are two tips for getting rid of the smell of garlic on your hands. One is to rub your hands on the bottom of an aluminum pot. The other is to rub your hands with a slice of lemon. In the interest of science, I cut up a clove of garlic and rubbed it all over the fingertips of both hands. I used aluminum on my right hand and lemon on my left. Both did the job.

For the smell of garlic on your breath, try chewing a sprig of parsley.


This post was shared on Hartke is Online and Simply Sugar and Gluten Free.
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1 comment:

Britny @ Garden office buildings said...

This is a very good explanation about garlic. I love your instructions about getting rid of garlic smell because I don’t like its smell though it is tasty.

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