Garlic is one of the most useful aromatics in your kitchen and one of the basic building blocks of cuisines from all over the world. That’s why it’s time to get to know everything you should about this tasty little bulb.
Types of garlic
Softneck garlic is the most common type of garlic and probably what you’re used to seeing at the grocery store, though the other varieties have their own unique properties and may be available at the store or at the lawn and garden store for your garden.
Elephant garlic isn’t a true garlic, but a variant of the garden leek. It does look and taste a lot more like garlic than a leek, though, and you can use it much the same way you use garlic.
Pick the right garlic
When shopping for garlic, look for a solid, plump bulb with tightly clinging cloves and tight, unbroken skin. The bulb should be firm (no soft spots) and be relatively heavy for its size. Avoid damp, soft or lightweight bulbs. If you use a lot of garlic, look for bulbs that appear to have larger cloves so you don’t have to peel as many at a time.
Store it right
Garlic lasts longest when it’s stored in a cool, dry, shady area with plenty of air circulation. You can also store it in paper bags, but never store it in the fridge or in a plastic bag, or it may develop mold.
How it measures up
These measurements are approximate, as garlic varies from bulb to bulb, but in general, if you need to substitute one form of garlic for another, you can use these equivalents.
- 1 bulb = 10 cloves
- 1 clove = 1 teaspoon chopped = 1/2 teaspoon minced
- 1 clove = 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder = 1/2 teaspoon garlic flakes = 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic = 1/2 teaspoon garlic juice
There’s more than one way to peel a clove.
1. Use an easy-roll garlic peeler by placing the clove in the center and gently rolling.
2. Place unpeeled cloves in a bowl, cover with another bowl around the same size, and shake vigorously.
3. Place a clove on the cutting board under the flat blade of a chef’s knife (with the blade pointing slightly toward the cutting board so you don’t cut yourself), and give the blade a good smack to make the skin easier to remove.
How to prep garlic
Slice: Cut into thin slices (using a paring knife).
Mince: After slicing, use a chef’s knife to chop into small “dices.”
Crush/press: Press through a garlic press (slightly mushier and juicier than minced).
Mash/paste: After mincing, sprinkle with kosher salt, then turn a knife at a 30-degree angle, and drag it over the garlic several times to create a paste. Or do the same with a mortar and pestle.
Roast: Cut about 1/2 inch off the tip of a whole head, brush with olive oil, wrap in or cover with aluminum foil, and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 – 45 minutes.
- Garlic with green sprouts is perfectly fine to eat, but the flavor may have diminished, so you may need more than usual.
- Garlic in oil or garlic butter is a breeding ground for the bacterium that causes botulism. They’re perfectly safe to eat but should be kept refrigerated for no more that two weeks.
- To remove the smell of garlic from your hands, rub them on something stainless steel (the faucet, the non-business end of a knife, a spoon, etc.) under cool, running water. Using soap and water actually makes the smell worse by changing the chemistry of the sulfur compound in the garlic.
- Garlic-infused vodka makes an excellent martini or bloody Mary. Cheers!
Sources: Wikipedia, How Stuff Works, Cook’s Thesaurus, Berkeley Wellness, Huffington Post