The "stinking rose" has been coveted and cultivated
back at least as far as history is recorded.
Its antiseptic, antibacterial, and antifungal
properties were recognized by different cultures the world over, and to
this day garlic plays a prominent role in virtually all native cuisines.
Over 5000 years ago, Chinese herbalists
used garlic to reduce blood pressure, cardiac and other circulatory problems.
Slaves laboring on the Egyptain pyramids were
fed garlic for strength and endurance.
According to Welsh rhyme, "Eat leeks in March
and wild garlic in May and all year after physicians may play!"
A variety of recent studies support folklore's
theories. Garlic has been shown to inhibit blood clotting, decrease
blood cholesterol and triglycerides, and increase "good" cholesterol (HDL).
In 1990, studies at Penn State University and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
in Houston showed that garlic compounds can block the action of carcinogens
that can cause cancers of the breast, esophagus, colon and rectum.
Nutritionally, garlic is a valued source
of potassium and phosphorus, and contains significant amounts of B &
C vitamins as well as calcium and protein. It's also rich in selenium,
said to prevent some of the effects of aging, and especially effective
in removing contamination of some heavy metals from our bodies.
Allicin is the compound that gives raw, cut
garlic its distinctive odor and sharp, hot taste. It is not generated
until the garlic is cut or crushed (or chewed!), and is the result of a
sulfur-containing compound (aliin) and an enzyme (Allinase) combining.
Allicin is what makes garlic effective against bacteria, viruses, molds,
yeasts, and other organisms.
For best results, store garlic
in a dark, cool, dry location.
Some of our professional chef
friends have offered suggestions for speeding the garlic peeling process
If you immerse unpeeled cloves
in a bowl of hot tap water for about 5 minutes, peels separate from cloves
much more easily.
Roast garlic cloves in wine
or broth in microwave for 5-6 minutes on High, then squeeze softened "roasted"
garlic out of the skin. This also works in a conventional oven: 45-60
minutes at 350 degrees.
Place an unpeeled clove on
your cutting board and cover with the flat side of a broad knife.
Hit the top side of the knife with your fist, thereby crushing the clove
and popping it out of its skin.
Use the cut side of a garlic
to take the pain out of a bee sting! You should feel relief almost
To increase the shelf life
of more perishable garlics we recommend the following procedure:
Separate and peel cloves, immerse in vinegar for at least 24 hours,
drain (save vinegar for salads!), cover with olive oil, REFRIGERATE
up to 3 months. Vinegar bath elminates chance of bacterial contamination.
The best way to have a reliable
supply of "fresh" garlic for cooking all winter is to take cloves, peel
and chop into olive oil (make sure oil covers garlic to seal air out).
Place container in your freezer. Oil will not freeze soild, so when
you get ready to cook, scoop out desired amount of garlic in oil, place
in your pan and you're ready to go!