Monday, March 1, 2010
There's More to Garlic than Fighting off Vampires
Garlic has more to offer then bad breath. In this post you will learn how and when to use garlic, what a clove of garlic is, and how to select the perfect bulb.
As early as the 1800's, ancient Greeks, Romans, Turks, and various other groups have used garlic for culinary and medicinal purposes. Since this is a cooking blog we will focus on the culinary aspect of garlic and how you can incorporate it into your meals.
When to use garlic:
You probably have noticed from the recipes I have posted thus far that I am a huge fan of garlic. Let's first start by deciding if the recipe you are using would benefit from a clove of garlic. I enjoy using garlic with red meats, pasta, potatoes, and various soups. Be adventurous, even if a recipe doesn't call for an ingredient and you think it might add more flavor to it, go ahead and toss it in. You live, you learn. Cooking is an experience and you will soon enjoy the good with the bad.
Trick to Selecting Garlic
When selecting the perfect garlic to use in the kitchen these are the key features it should possess:
1. Paper-white skins are the best
2. Firm and plump
3. No visible brown or soft spots.
4. I typically select large garlic because I can get about 10-15 cloves from a piece of garlic
What is this clove you speak of...
I have been speaking about cloves in recipes as well as this post and it is time to explain what a clove truly is. A garlic clove is technically one of the small bulblets within the garlic. When a recipe calls for 2 cloves of garlic you would separate two small bulblet from the garlic and follow the directions of the recipe (mince, cook, chop, etc).
Cooking with garlic
When cooking with minced garlic there is one very important rule to keep in mind and that is DO NOT BURN THE GARLIC. Trust me, if you have ever done this you will know exactly what I am talking about. The easiest way to know if you have burned your garlic is by taste. Answer this one question and you will have your answer: Does it taste insanely bitter? If you answered yes, start chopping and start again because it means you burned the garlic. If you are working with minced garlic a good rule of thumb is less than a minute and be sure to stir often. If the recipe calls for other items to be cooked on a skillet I will add the garlic last to ensure it doesn't burn.
I hope this helps you better understand the inner workings of garlic.
Picture from: http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/how-to-plant-and-store-garlic-3.jpg