Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Garlic is one of the most versatile flavors to ever grace a kitchen. It not only tastes wonderful, it's very good for your body. It is one of Mother Nature's most precious gift to cooks of all levels of expertise.
Choose garlic heads that are firm to the touch, with no nicks or soft cloves. If you notice dark, powdery patches under the skin, pass it up because this is an indication of a common mold which will eventually spoil the flesh.
Store unpeeled heads of garlic in an open container in a cool, dry place away from other foods. Do not refrigerate or freeze unpeeled garlic. Properly stored garlic can keep up to three months.
Garlic Cooking Tips
Believe it or not, one raw garlic clove, finely minced or pressed releases more flavor than a dozen cooked whole cloves.
When garlic cloves are cooked or baked whole, the flavor mellows into a sweet, almost nutty flavor that hardly resembles any form of pungency. This nutty flavor makes a surprisingly nice addition to desserts, such as brownies or even ice cream.
Cooked, whole, unpierced cloves barely have any aroma at all, while raw garlic is the strongest in flavor.
When sauteing garlic, be very careful not to burn it. The flavor turns intensely bitter, and you'll have to start over.
There are a myriad of garlic presses available on the market, but I prefer the Zyliss/Susi. This is the queen of all garlic presses in my opinion, and although it may cost you $10-15, it is virtually indestructible, as well as a pleasure to use and clean.
If you have a good garlic press, you don't even need to peel garlic cloves before pressing, which can be a wonderful time-saver. Just place the unpeeled clove in the tool cavity, press and discard the skins left in the cavity.
An easy rule of thumb to remember regarding the potency of the flavor of garlic is: The smaller you cut it, the stronger the flavor. Chopping finely and/or pressing a clove exposes more surfaces to the air, causing a chemical reaction to produce that strong aroma and potent flavor.
Garlic has long been considered a medicinal food. It was used to protect against plague by monks in the Middle Ages. Hippocrates used garlic vapors to treat cervical cancer. Garlic poultices were placed on wounds during World War II as an inexpensive, and apparently quite effective replacement for antibiotics which were scarce during wartime.
Now science is beginning to prove the medicinal properties of garlic that our ancestors took for granted. Studies have shown garlic can suppress the growth of tumors, and is a potent antioxidant good for cardiovascular health.
Other studies show garlic can reduce LDLs or "bad" cholesterol and is a good blood-thinning agent to avoid blood clots which could potentially lead to heart attack or stroke.
All of this natural medicine comes at a cost of only 4 calories per clove.
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