Garlic. It’s pungent, robust, and even a little sweet when prepared a certain way. It lends itself to every cuisine on the planet and gives recipes that little extra something that makes all the difference in the final product. And on top of its many culinary qualities, garlic offers natural medicinal benefits as well. Garlic is all that and a bag of chips.
Aside from delicious, what exactly is garlic? For starters, it’s a member of the Allium (lily) family. The underground bulb is the part we’re familiar with, but you can harvest the greens early in the season and use them as you would chives. Most anywhere you might live, garlic is likely to grow easy in your garden. And while it’s working to grow into food for your pantry, it keeps all kinds of insects in the surrounding area at bay.
But what’s the big deal about the health-giving aspects of garlic?
- Garlic has been used for thousands and thousands of years. In Ayurveda medicine, which dates back to 4500 BC, garlic is recommended for treating parasites, heart disease, and digestive disorders. Other ancient civilizations, ranging from Egypt to China, used garlic to aid respiration and increase stamina and endurance.
- Garlic is rich in many vitamins and minerals. With manganese, selenium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6, garlic is the bomb at providing a shot of nutrition with every meal. When grown in mineral-rich soil, it provides you with a bit of most everything you need.
- Garlic consumption increases cardiovascular health. Every aspect of cardiovascular health is positively affected by eating garlic. It lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, reduces oxidative damage, and improves blood circulation. So it’s safe to say that garlic is great for your ticker.
And on the culinary side of things, garlic does most everything.
- Roasted garlic. Roasting your garlic is where the sweetness comes in (though I wouldn’t recommend adding it to your next batch of brownies). You’ll love the scent wafting from your oven as they cook, but you’ll really go bonkers for the creamy cloves once they’re done. After they cool off a bit, simply squeeze the cloves out of their papery outer shells and into a container for the refrigerator. They add depth to most sauces, taste lovely spread on a nice slice of bread, and are delicious just popped in your mouth.
- Fermented garlic. Recently, I learned how easy it is to ferment my own vegetables. My next experiment in the world of home fermentation is going to be Sally Fallon’s recipe for pickled garlic. You can find it on page 96 of her timeless text Nourishing Traditions. If you don’t have this book on your self-health library shelf, get it. Now.
- Garlic in recipes. Whether it’s soups, sauces, or casseroles, adding garlic to your favorite recipes is a great way to make them even more delicious. In our house, if a recipe doesn’t list garlic, it’s more times than not added by the chef-on-duty.
- Crispy garlic. That bag of chips I referenced in the title? If you warm butter in a pan and gently fry up some sliced garlic, it transforms into crispy little chips that are scrumptious on top of a salad, baked potato, or just about anything else. But be sure not to walk away from the pan because garlic burns easily and becomes bitter.
Garlic is useful in so many ways that it’s silly not to have a bulb or two in your pantry at all times. Heck, I even read that rubbing a thin slice of garlic on a pimple before going to bed clears it right up. How ’bout that?!
What’s your favorite way to eat wonderful, versatile garlic?
Image from iStock/CentralITAlliance.