Garlic is a popular ingredient in many dishes and goes well in most soups, stews and main dishes. According to folklore, it can ward off vampires and some scientific studies suggest that eating a clove of garlic every day can be good for your heart. It’s not everybody’s favorite spice and some people can be turned off by the smell, but that doesn’t stop chefs around the world from slipping it into a wide variety of popular dishes.
Fun Facts About Garlic
FAQ About Garlic
I heard garlic is sort of like onions. Where does it come from? Garlic goes by the scientific name of Allium sativum and its closest relations are onions, shallots, leeks and chives. It is uncertain exactly where modern garlic originated, but the earliest documented uses of garlic come from the Mediterranean and China. It spread to Europe and some modern varieties of garlic have Protected Geographical Status in the European Union, mostly meaning that it is legally the “official” garlic of a specific region. It has two basic varieties or subspecies. Ophioscorodon, or hard-necked garlic, includes porcelain garlic, rocambole garlic, and purple striped garlic. Sativum, or soft-necked garlic, includes artichoke garlic, silverskin garlic, and creole garlic.
Garlic has a strong taste. How easy is it to use too much? Fairly easy and I prefer to use fresh garlic rather than dried powders, which is like using concentrated garlic. The garlic flavor should be subtle unless the dish you’re making calls for strong garlic flavor. Usually 1 or 2 cloves will be enough.
How can I get rid of the garlic smell on my fingers? Some people recommend soaking your fingers in lemon juice or vinegar, and then washing your hands thoroughly. Others recommend salt. If you got garlic under your fingernails, a good nailbrush may help. Many chefs will wear gloves that help them avoid getting garlic and other foods with a strong scent on their fingers.
What can I do about garlic breath? Carry a toothbrush and some mouthwash with you and remember to brush your teeth and rinse after eating anything garlicky or strong-smelling.
Is it easy to grow garlic? If you’ve ever seen garlic start to sprout in your fridge, that should be your clue to find some pots and plant the cloves. Each clove will become a garlic plant. Soil should be highly fertile and well-drained to keep the bulbs from getting too much water and rotting. Plants can be started either early in the spring or in the fall for next year. Keep your garden around the garlic well-hulled and weeded. Harvest promptly when the plants start to die and turn brown, often by late July. Cloves can reproduce sexually or asexually, so you definitely want to harvest it on time if you don’t want your garden to be overrun by garlic plants every year. Store your harvest in a cool place.
Working With Garlic
Sweet & Sour Stir Fry
I improvised this recipe when I had some rice and veggies to use up, so feel free to adjust amounts to suit your personal tastes.
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 3 teaspoons soy sauce
- Splash orange juice or apple cider
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- Dash red pepper
- 4 cups cooked rice
- 1 pound of your favorite vegetables. (My favorites for stir-fry include carrots, celery, broccoli, mushrooms, red or green peppers, and water chestnuts.)
- 1 pound chicken or beef cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
Mix honey, vinegar, soy sauce, juice, cornstarch and red pepper in a small bowl; set aside. Cook rice according to package directions. Heat a little olive oil in bottom of a skillet. Add vegetables; stir-fry until they just begin to soften. If it starts to stick, add a little more oil. Add chicken or been and stir-fry until browned. Add chopped garlic. Give the honey mix a good stir and add to skillet. Stir well and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with rice.
Garlicky Cheesy Mushroom Soup
Ever get bored with canned soup? Liven it up with a little garlic, a little cheese and a little pepper.
- 1 clove garlic chopped
- Handful cheddar cheese
- 1 can Campbell’s mushroom soup
- 1 Campbell’s can milk
- Pepper to taste
Empty can of soup into a pan. Fill the same can with milk and add it to the pan. Add the garlic, cheese and pepper. Heat through until cheese is melted and garlic is tenderized, about five-ten minutes. Serve hot with crackers or croûtons.
Yet another way to torment those people who love shrimp but can’t stand garlic. Or vice versa. Yummy.
Use More Garlic