Everything You’ve Ever Needed to Know About Garlic

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Garlic adds that punch of flavor to your cooking. It’s the warm hug in a soup, that extra kick in a sauce, and it is used everywhere, from baked goods to grills. It’s such a ubiquitous ingredient that many people use on a regular basis – even a daily basis! However, how much do you really know about garlic? This guide will give you the essential overview of everything you’ve ever needed to know about garlic.

Garlic Overview

Garlic is a member of the allium family, which also includes onions, leeks, and chives. Garlic itself has been cultivated for thousands of years and is native to central Asia, with China still one of the main global producers.

Though there are many compounds within garlic, the most notable is allicin, which causes garlic’s distinctive smell when it’s chopped or crushed. Garlic is also antimicrobial and a good antioxidant and is jam-packed with a bunch of other vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and manganese.

Garlic can be eaten fresh (though you’ll need to get this from a garlic farm), cured, or as a granule. Businesses and households alike use it to add a kick of rich, hearty flavor to dishes. The only difference is that consumers will buy a head of garlic or a small jar of granules, and businesses will buy bulk garlic by the pound or crate.

Regardless of how much garlic you have in your household or business, know you have a powerhouse of an ingredient on your hands. This ingredient isn’t just a great way to add taste but a superfood in its own right.

Health Benefits of Garlic

Garlic has long been used for its health benefits, with the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Chinese, and Romans all using it as a medicinal ingredient. While garlic itself is certainly no replacement for medication, it is a healthy hero that’s a great addition to any dish. Despite its many benefits, for example, garlic is low in calories, with just 4.5 calories in a single clove. Despite that small size, that single clove serves an incredibly nutritious amount of manganese, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, selenium, fiber, and protein.

The Varieties of Garlic

There are many different varieties of garlic, each with its own unique flavor, aroma, and growing characteristics. Some of the most popular varieties include:

1) Rocambole Garlic

Rocambole garlic is a hardneck variety with a strong, full flavor. It has a reddish-brown papery skin. The cloves of Rocambole garlic are easy to peel and have a delicate, nutty flavor that is well suited for use in a wide range of dishes, from roasted garlic to garlic bread and sauces. Rocambole garlic is also prized for its ability to retain its flavor when cooked, making it a popular choice for use in soups, stews, and stir-fry dishes.

2) Porcelain Garlic

Porcelain garlic is a hardneck variety with large, white bulbs that have a very strong flavor. It is often used in cooking and for making garlic powder or garlic salt, which is the best and easiest way for many businesses, including restaurants, to add that kick of flavor.

3) Silverskin Garlic

Silverskin garlic is a softneck variety with a small, delicate flavor. This variety is often used in braids, as it dries well and stores for an extended period of time. Silverskin garlic is usually mild in flavor. It is often used for pickling or as a flavor component in sauces and dips.

4) Inchelium Red

Inchelium Red is a softneck variety of garlic that is known for its large bulbs and mild, sweet flavor. It is a great all-purpose garlic that can be used in a wide range of dishes. This variety is usually braided and hung for dryingand has a papery white outer layer with red streaks. Inchelium Red is often used in raw form, as its flavor is considered to be delicate and subtle. It is also commonly used in soups, stews, and sauces.

5) Kettle River Giant

Kettle River Giant is a hardneck garlic variety that is named for the Kettle River in northeastern Washington state, where it was first grown. This variety is known for its large bulbs and high yield and has a robust, spicy flavor that is well-suited for use in roasted garlic dishes. It is a popular variety for roasting and is often used in Mediterranean cuisine.

6) Purple Glazer

Purple Glazer is a hardneck variety of garlic that is known for its large bulbs and sweet, mild flavor. It is a popular choice for those who want a mild garlic flavor without the pungency that is often associated with other varieties. You’ll usually find it used as either roasted garlic or in garlic-infused oils and vinegar.

7) What About Black Garlic?

Despite the common belief that there is no black garlic species, there is.Black garlic is a type of garlic that is created by fermenting fresh garlic bulbs at high temperatures and humidity over the course of several weeks. This process changes the flavor, aroma, and appearance of the garlic, turning the cloves a deep black color and giving them a sweet, molasses-like flavor with a slightly tangy taste.

Hard Neck vs. Soft Neck Garlic

Hardneck and softneck garlic are two different types of garlic that are grown and used for alternative purposes.

Hardneck garlic is so named because it has a hard stem, or “neck,” that extends from the bulb. This type of garlic typically produces fewer, larger cloves that are easier to peel, making it a popular choice for roasting. Hardneck garlic is also known for its stronger flavor, which is often described as being more complex and pungent than softneck garlic. This type of garlic is typically grown in colder climates, as it is more hardy and can survive harsh winter temperatures.

Softneck garlic, on the other hand, has a softer stem and is more flexible. This type of garlic is often braided together to form long, rope-like garlic “leashes.” Softneck garlic is usually grown in warmer climates, as it is not as hardy as hardneck garlic and cannot survive harsh winter temperatures. Softneck garlic typically produces more cloves, which are smaller and more tightly packed together. Softneck garlic is known for having a milder flavor than hardneck garlic and is often used in cooking and as a raw ingredient in dishes.

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