Garlic (ail in French) is a bulbous plant in the allium family of vegetables. It has long been known for its healing, antiseptic, antibiotic properties and culinarily for its pungent aroma. The bulbs (or heads) of garlic are composed of tear-shaped cloves each with a thin layer or two which is peeled away. It is mainly white but sometimes the cloves have a slight purple tinge to them.
Fresh garlic bulbs are the most common form but there is also commercially available dried garlic powder, black garlic (slow fermented), garlic oil, and even garlic capsules as a supplement.
The Chinese were "probably the first to cultivate garlic" six thousand years ago (The Secrets of the Seed Vegetables, Fruits and Nuts p 35). Nowadays, garlic is found in just about every cuisine around the world.
Garlic is known to give its eaters bad breath--a sacrifice to make for the delicious taste.
We all know that chefs and foodies can have crazy obsessions. For some people garlic is life and black garlic, in particular. Garlic is celebrated around the world, strung together to make wreathes or strings, and there are even entire festivals surrounding garlic.
Forage & Farm from Millarville, AB. Award winning black garlic.
Ways to Cook
Garlic is eaten raw or cooked. In small quantities, it is added to cold sauces, dressings, marinades and pickles. In hot cooking, garlic is minced, sliced, or used whole. Garlic can be sliced and inserted into meats for roasting. Garlic can be infused into oil and used for sautéing. It can be sliced and fried as tiny chips. Garlic can be slow-cooked in whole bulbs, then mashed and incorporated into soups and purées.
When it is raw, the taste can be quite sharp and it is easy to over do it. Cooked garlic is milder, smoother and sweeter. Black garlic is one of the "umami bombs" out there. It is made by fermenting whole bulbs. It turns black and into a soft texture or even eaten as the whole clove. One can easily rattle off foods with garlic; garlic bread, pasta, stir-fries, pesto, honey garlic, confit garlic, pickled garlic, garlic mashed potatoes, tzatziki...