Garlic

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Garlic-KitchenI have been asked many times why garlic is so good for us. In this blog I offer up reasons as well as some tips to get the best from garlic. 

Allium sativum, commonly known as garlic, is a species in the onion genus, Allium. Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek, chive. Garlic has a history of human use of over 7,000 years and is native to central Asia. 

Garlic is a wonderful seasoning to add aroma, taste, and added nutrition to your dishes. I recommend using raw chopped or pressed garlic in many of your dishes to take advantage of the benefits derived from garlic. 

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. 

What this means is that the Allicin that is present in garlic has time to form properly. I let garlic rest for 8-10 minutes before I start to cook with it. This resting vastly improves the health benefits of garlic. 

For more on the health benefits of garlic follow this link to an article from Dr Mercola 

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/09/23/garlic-health-benefits.aspx 

Garlic-Braid-WebGrowing Garlic 

Garlic is a very easy plant to grow. It takes up very little room and if you prepare the soil you are planting into all it should need is to keep the soil moist. 

In general, the best times for planting are mid-autumn or early spring. Garlic needs a lot of full sun, but it might tolerate partial shade provided it’s not for very long during the day or growing season. The soil must be well dug over and crumbly. Sandy loam is best. 

Break up each bulb into cloves (little segments), it is these segments which you plant not the whole bulb. 

Bury each clove (segment) finger depth, at least 5 cm (2 inches) below the ground (twice as deep as the length of the clove). Space the cloves you are planting 20cm (8 inches) apart. 

Garlic is happy growing in pots and containers, in a pot the size of a kitchen bucket you can plant about 6 cloves of garlic. All that is required is good drainage, a position in full sun and good potting mix. 

Harvesting and Storage 

Loosen the area around each bulb with a shovel. Pull the bulbs out of the ground. Be careful with the digging process, since garlic tends to bruise easily.  

Wash them and leave to dry in a well-ventilated space or in the sun for a few days if rain is guaranteed not to fall. Garlic can get sunburned, so don’t leave them outside for too long. 

Store garlic in a cool, dry place in your home. Dried bulbs can be kept in a garlic keeper (usually made from pottery), and individual cloves can be pulled off as needed.