Cooking With Garlic

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garlicIn a follow-up post to Garlic, I want to chat a little about cooking garlic. 

Garlic is an allium in the same family as onions, chives, shallots and leeks. It’s cultivated for the distinct flavour of its bulb. Garlic is high in vitamins B6 and C, and contains several minerals including magnesium, potassium and calcium. Garlic also contains essential oils, glucose and fructose. 

Selecting Garlic 

When selecting garlic, choose plump, firm bulbs with tight cloves. Bulbs that appear drier, where the skin easily falls off, are likely old. If you slice open your garlic clove and notice that there is a green stem inside, this indicates that your garlic is sprouting and past its prime. It is still okay to use the clove, but some find this green stem to be bitter and pungent. Simply remove the green stem prior to cooking. 

Using Garlic In Your Cooking 

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. I also bake whole heads of garlic when I am making pumpkin soups. 

You can increase the health benefits you receive from garlic by letting it sit after you’ve chopped it or crushed it. If you give your chopped/crushed garlic time to sit before changing its temperature (through cooking) it will give the alliinase enzymes in garlic an opportunity to become active and this offers great health benefits, let it rest for about 8 minutes. 

Garlic-CookingGarlic and Heat 

When sautéing garlic, be very careful not to burn it. The flavour turns intensely bitter, and you’ll have to start over. Never put garlic into very hot oil. Oil heated over a medium heat will let the garlic release its wonderful taste infusing the oil. 

The smaller you cut it, the stronger the flavour. Chopping finely and/or pressing a clove exposes more surfaces to the air, causing a chemical reaction to produce that strong aroma and potent flavour. This is even more so when you have fresh garlic at the beginning of the harvest season.

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.