Garlic: benefits and cooking
Garlic is not a delicate ingredient . It is strong . It radiates through your kitchen . It gets in, to say the least . But everything that makes it pungent also makes it delicious .
As part of the allium family that also gives us onions, it’s no surprise that garlic comes with a punch. And like onions, which also start out bitter and then turn sweet, the intense bite in garlic softens once it’s heated and cooked. However, not before soaking your plate with delicious intense flavor.
So, what about that smell you get when you chop garlic? This is the enzyme called alliinase that works with an amino acid called allin .
Once you chop, mince, or crush a clove of garlic, these compounds become friendly, mix, and make something called allicin . This is what hits your nose (or your plate if you’re going to bite into it raw). It’s also what gives garlic most of its street cred with health experts
Health benefits of garlic
Allicin is not activated until the garlic is crushed or chopped. Meanwhile, heat can stop this activation. So when you cook with garlic, don’t be afraid to crush it and let it sit for some time before tossing it in the pot or pan. This will help enhance the flavor and health benefits.
Before people used garlic to flavor their food, they were using it medicinally. Some studies have linked garlic to a stronger immune system and shorter colds. Garlic supplements have been shown to be effective in lowering high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Fresh garlic also appears to have antibacterial properties, and in some studies it was even more effective than commonly prescribed antibiotics.
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, 1 garlic clove (3 grams) contains:
- 4 kcal (calories)
- 19 grams protein
- 99 grams of carbohydrates
- 01 g fat
- 1 gram of fiber
- 12 milligrams potassium
- 5 mg of phosphorus
- 5 milligrams calcium
- 1 milligram magnesium
- 9 milligrams of vitamin C
Traditional garlic : There are several types of traditional garlic, and they fall into two categories; Solid and softneck. Soft neck varieties include Creole, Asian, turban, artichoke (what is usually sold in grocery stores), and silver leather. Hardy garlic cultivars include porcelain, purple stripe, and rucambol.
Elephant garlic : This is not a true garlic, although it is in the same family as a variety of garden leek. Large bulbs are attached to a long flowering stem with leaves similar to those of a leek. The bulbs can be separated and used for cooking. Its flavor is much less pungent than real garlic.
Black garlic : Black garlic is the newest and trendiest but also hard to find. It is a dark gray-purple color, with a slightly tangy note, and is sweeter than regular garlic. For best flavor, don’t chop it up; Leave it whole or roughly chopped.
Peeling garlic in large quantities
There are two popular ways to peel garlic, but I find that both don’t completely remove the peel, but they come close!
- Shake in a bowl.
Place whole garlic bulbs in a large (32 ounce) glass jar. Cover tightly and shake for 1 to 2 minutes, until the cloves separate and most of the husks are loosened. Discard the paper backing and then use your fingers to remove the remaining skin from any unpeeled cloves.
- Shake in 2 bowls
Place the whole garlic bulb in 2 medium or large bowls, turned on top of each other to get a dome shape . Helps get a lip on the bowls! Shake for 1 to 2 minutes until the garlic gloves come off and the husks begin to fall off. Discard the peel, and shake again for 1 to 2 minutes to remove more. Peel any remaining cloves with your hands.
Chef’s Tip : The paper-thin skin can stick to the cloves after shaking them, so just run the garlic under water to remove it. Follow the How to Chop Garlic instructions once you’ve peeled the garlic. If you are only making a few cloves, use the peeling technique described below.
Every now and then, you might stumble across a garlic sprout coil with a clove sticking out or a green bud hidden inside. Although it is safe to eat, it is best to remove the sprout to prevent adding bitter notes to the dish.
How to choose and store garlic
Look for bulbs that are hard and don’t show signs of rot. To extend its shelf life, keep the garlic bulb head intact even while removing the garlic cloves. Pre-peeled garlic will shorten its shelf life.
Store garlic in dry areas at room temperature and away from light. Signs that garlic is damaged may include turning yellow-green buds in the middle of the clove.
How to cook with garlic
Garlic is used as the basis for flavoring when sautéing meats or vegetables for different recipes, for example in this Lemon and Pepper Shrimp Spaghetti. There are some basic tips for cooking with minced garlic that you won’t want to miss, like when to chop garlic and add it to the pan.
You can also roast whole garlic, which will soften the cloves and bring out a sweet flavor. Then you can mix it with butter and make garlic bread, or use garlic to flavor sauces. I also add roasted garlic to these mashed potatoes, and it’s always a hit.
Removing garlic smell from hands
Everything that makes garlic strong and delicious to cook with can also leave your hands with a pungent garlic smell days after touching it. While it’s great for the kitchen, it’s not so great when you’re rocking your hands at a Monday morning meeting.
You can clean your hands with baking soda to get rid of garlic smell, or try washing them with vinegar. If you’re desperate, try tomato juice, but one should do the trick.