Garlic is a potent bulb related to onions that is used in many forms of ethnic cuisine, including Italian, Mexican, and Middle Eastern dishes. Garlic has many health benefits, including anticoagulant properties similar to (if not better than) Aspirin. It can reduce LDL cholesterol, has anti-carcinogenic properties, and relieves hypertension. For health benefits garlic can be eaten raw, in the form of 1-2 cloves a day sliced into pill-sized amounts and swallowed. Powdered garlic is ok, but nothing beats the real thing. It is delicious cooked with just about anything, and steams well with vegetables, leaving mild cloves and spicy veggies. Garlic should not be taken before surgery as its blood-thinning properties are potentially hazardous during such processes. The blood-thinning is good for you in all other respects, preventing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and myocardial infarction (heart attack).

There are over 600 sub-varieties of garlic Allium Sativum that vary in size, shape, color, smell, taste, number of cloves per bulb, pungency and shelf life. These sub-varieties all originate from the two main types of garlic, hard necked garlics Ophioscorodon, and soft necked garlics Sativum. From these types are five distinct varieties.

Hard Necked:
  • Purple Stripe: Tend to be strong in flavor, thick bulb wrappers (some with purple vertical stripes) and fewer cloves. Common varieties include Metechi, Skuri #2 and Persian Star.
  • Porcelain: Cloves are large and fat, few to a bulb, strong taste, covers are golden brown with some vertical purple stripes.
  • Rocambole: Dirty thin wrappers, many purple splotches and grows well in colder climates.
Soft Necked:
  • Artichoke: Most common (and diverse), store well, very large bulbs, and are sometimes called "Italian" or "Red" garlic in supermarkets. Many different varieties (ranging in flavor) are; Simoneti (mild), Inchelium and Susanville (medium heat),Chinese Turban and Purple Cauldren (Hot). Asian Rose and Chinese Sativum are creepers - they don't taste hot initially, but ten seconds later, WHEW!
  • Silverskin: You usually see these in braids as they have the longest shelf life. These are generally hot, strong tasting cloves that aren't as big as Artichokes but are much more colorful. Some varieties are; Creole (mild) and Nootka Rose (medium).
You may have seen Elephant garlic in your supermarket, this is really a leek and is very mild.

When purchasing garlic, look for large outer cloves and firm heads. If it is sprouting, discard. Sprouted cloves are rubbery and have less flavor.

Garlic skin is often difficult to remove, a good smack with the side of a knife or the ball of a palm will usually loosen the skin effeciently.

Garlic mellows as it cooks. Raw garlic can overwhelm other flavors so use accordingly. If you burn garlic, it will turn bitter.

Chopped or crushed garlic is incorporated in dishes from almost every imaginable cuisine, but whole cloves of garlic can be enjoyed in their own right if they are roasted until soft, when the taste becomes sweet and mellow. If you're more than usually fond of garlic, you may like to roast a whole bulb (slice the top off to expose the tops of the cloves), and spread the resulting paste on bread.

Raw garlic, on the other hand, has a very strong flavour, and it is certainly difficult to eat any great amount of it. If you're after the prodigious medicinal qualities of garlic, you may be better off eating it cooked, as you probably won't be able to eat a significant amount of the uncooked clove. On the other hand, raw garlic rubbed across the face of a piece of toast, topped with tomatoes, basil leaves and olive oil makes an excellent bruschetta.

Gar"lic (?), n. [OE. garlek, AS. garle�xa0;c; gar spear, lance + le�xa0;c leek. See Gar, n., and Leek.]

1. Bot.

A plant of the genus Allium (A. sativum is the cultivated variety), having a bulbous root, a very strong smell, and an acrid, pungent taste. Each root is composed of several lesser bulbs, called cloves of garlic, inclosed in a common membranous coat, and easily separable.

2.

A kind of jig or farce.

[Obs.]

Taylor (1630).

Garlic mustard, a European plant of the Mustard family (Alliaria officinalis) which has a strong smell of garlic. -- Garlic pear tree, a tree in Jamaica (Crataeva gynandra), bearing a fruit which has a strong scent of garlic, and a burning taste.

 

© Webster 1913.

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