The Many Faces of Garlic

mmallet's picture
Posted by mmallet on 2014-10-31 9:55

Each month, we will feature a fruit or vegetable of the month to get your hearts pumping, your taste buds salivating and your kitchen cooking.

Now that Halloween is over, our little monsters, spies, vampires and princesses have hung up their costumes after a plentiful harvest of sweets. Did you celebrate the event by watching your favourite horror movies?

In classic movies, garlic is used to ward off blood-thirsty vampires. But in addition to garlic’s ability to keep mythical creatures at bay, what do we know about it?

Garlic is also often credited with the power to ward off cancer and heart disease, especially in the form of garlic supplements, which contain one or more of its active compounds. However, the scientific literature does not appear to support these claims of cardiovascular protection, finding that garlic has little or no effect on total cholesterol rates.  Other longitudinal studies are needed to demonstrate the efficacy of standardized garlic preparations as a complement to traditional treatments for hypertension, or as a safe alternative.

"A nickel might get you on the train, but garlic will guarantee you a seat."

Consumed in small quantities, garlic provides few calories or nutrients. However, when consumed in large quantities (that is, by the bulb, 40 mL or 24 g at a time), it is a source of nutrients such as phosphorus, iron, copper, selenium and vitamin C.  

Garlic also contains different antioxidants and a number of active compounds including allicin, which is the molecule responsible for garlic’s characteristic odour. How do you get rid of garlic breath? Chewing parsley, mint or coffee coffee beans after meals will help a little.

 "A paella without shellfish is like a leg of lamb without garlic." - Michel Audiard

We know that garlic has been used in cooking for a very long time.  As a matter of fact, I found an interesting little anecdote when I was researching the subject. Did you know that the French word for sweater, chandail, is derived from the French word for garlic, ail? It appears that the word chandail started out as a popular shortening of marchand d’ail,  or "garlic merchant," or the name given to the sweater worn by garlic merchants in 19th-century Paris .

Garlic is ideal for flavouring foods without adding salt. It can easily be used to flavour oils, sauces, pasta dishes, meats, soups and croutons. Roasting or grilling garlic in the oven until it caramelizes will bring out its flavour and enhance your dishes. 

Fresh garlic can be stored for three to nine months, depending on the variety. Make sure you store it at room temperature, however. Garlic tends to sprout in cold and humid conditions.

And for those of you who enjoy growing their own herbs and vegetables like I do, the best time to plant garlic is usually between September 15 and October 15. You’ll have fresh garlic by mid-July, and you will be able to continue harvesting it until mid-August.

See you at harvest time!

Follow me on Twitter @mc_HCRD

Comments 0