A whole garlic clove sautéed in oil will have a sweet, delicate flavor.
A whole garlic clove cooked slowly will have a mellow, nutty flavor.
Cut garlic—raw or cooked—will be pungent and hot.
Minced or crushed raw garlic will be the most boldly potent of all.
Garlic is widely used in soups, sauces, salads, stews, braised dishes, sautés, and as a seasoning for meats, fish, poultry, and game. It is added to butters, cheese spreads, breads, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, crackers, stuffings, herb vinegars, flavored oils, and pickles.
• Rub skinned whole, raw garlic on bread or around the sides of a salad bowl.
• Use chopped or crushed raw garlic as a seasoning for raw vegetables, in pesto sauce, garlic butter, or garlic purée.
• Press raw garlic to get aromatized garlic oil.
• Cook whole garlic cloves in ragoûts and braised dishes and in roasts and soups.
• Use peeled cloves, sliced or chopped in sautéed dishes.
Garlic facts and trivia. Garlic is an annual herb that grows from 12 to 24 inches (30-60 cm) tall. It has solid, narrow, strap-shaped leaves that grow atop an underground round bulb or head that is enclosed in a white papery sheath.
Each garlic bulb is made up of a cluster of 12 to 16 bulblets called cloves. Cloves can have a white, pink, or violet skin depending on the variety.
Garlic cloves contain an aromatic and strong-flavored sulfur-containing compound called allicin.
Garlic is thought to have originated in the mountains of Central Asia—Kazakhstan, Uzbekhistan, and Turkmenistan. From there, it spread both east and west. It is one of the oldest cultivated plants, grown for more than 5,000 years in many countries.
The name garlic comes from the Old English word gar meaning spear, referring to spear-like shape of the leaves, and leac from the vegetable leek.
There are several hundred named varieties of garlic, but just two basic types: hardneck garlic (Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon) and softneck garlic (A. sativum var. sativum). Softneck is the strongest-flavored.
Garlic harvest. Garlic comes to harvest in both the spring and summer.
Mature bulbs are harvested in the summer after the plant’s long green leaves have yellowed and dried. The bulbs are pulled from the ground and dried. Raw, dried garlic is pungent and hot.
Green garlic—sometimes called “fresh heads”—is harvested at the beginning of the growing season in spring. The heads of green garlic are soft, thick, and white. Green garlic is succulent, mild, and even sweet.
Garlic in the kitchen. Garlic goes well with almost any savory food: basil, broccoli, chicken, crab, mushrooms, potato, shrimp, spinach, steak, tomatoes, and tomato sauces to name a few.
To use garlic as a base for savory dishes, sauté peeled cloves briefly just before adding the other ingredients. Sautéing–or “sweating”–garlic just before mixing it with other foods will soften its texture and mellow its flavor.
Roasted, poached, double-poached, or glazed garlic can be served as a vegetable. Here’s one simple way: roast unpeeled garlic whole for 15 minutes at 350°F then serve as an accompaniment to roast meats or poultry.
The most popular are classified simply by the skin color of the bulbs: white garlic, pink garlic, and purple garlic.
Garlic is an indispensable ingredient in many of the world’s greatest cuisines including France, China, Mexico, Italy, and Southeast Asia.
Garlic is perhaps most closely associated with French cooking and is the dominant seasoning in many dishes originating in Provençe—which might be described as the quintessential Mediterranean cuisine.
Choose. Select garlic cloves that are plump, firm, and free of sprouts (green sprouts are indigestible). The skin should be dry, even flaky, and intact. Avoid cloves that are soft or shriveled. The size of a garlic clove will not affect its flavor or freshness.
Store. Keep garlic heads in a cool, dry, well ventilated place. Garlic will keep for up to 8 weeks if kept at room temperature, after that the heads may begin to dry out. Once garlic heads are broken, the individual cloves will keep for about 3 to 10 days.
Preparation. Place the bulb upside down and press down hard on the head with the palm of your hand or roll the head back and forth on a counter. The cloves will break free.
Cut off the tip from each end of a clove and peel off the flaky skin. Individual cloves can be peeled more easily if they are first crushed slightly with the side of a knife blade.
To remove the skins without crushing the cloves, microwave the head of garlic for 1 minute on high power, turning halfway through cooking. The skins will then slip off.
Crushing chopping, pressing or puréeing intensifies the flavor of garlic. Heating garlic will mellow its flavor.
Garlic is odorless until its skin is peeled away. When the skin is peeled away or broken enzymes activated by the exposure to air start to work on the garlic flesh producing a compound called allicin. Allicin give garlic its pungency.
The more finely you chop garlic the more allicin that is produced and the greater the pungency.
Serve. The flavor of garlic is released only when it is cut, crushed, or chopped—the more finely chopped or crushed the stronger the flavor.
Garlic is most commonly used as a condiment or seasoning. Garlic can be used as a flavoring agent in vinaigrettes, soups, vegetables, tofu, meats, stews, cold meats, and marinades.
Use raw or chopped garlic in aioli sauce, rouille, pesto, and garlic butter.
For maximum flavor of garlic, add it at the end of cooking—in the last 20 or 30 seconds.
For a more subtle flavor, cook garlic whole without peeling or cutting. Do not allow garlic to brown when sautéing; this will destroy the flavor and can make food taste bitter.
The green stems of fresh garlic may used in place of shallots or chives.
Green garlic is young garlic pulled from the ground before the bulb begins to form cloves. Green garlic is harvested in the spring and resembles a baby leek. The taste of green garlic has a softer more herb-like flavor than mature garlic.
Garlic Breath. Use parsley, mint leaves, or coffee grounds to freshen your breath after eating garlic.
Nutrition. Garlic is a very good source of selenium.
The botanical name for garlic is Allium sativum.