Let’s talk Garlic!

I enjoy the nerd stuff so we will start with that. Garlic is a species in the onion genus, Allium. Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek, chive, and Chinese onion. Garlic is native to Central Asia and northeastern Iran, and has long been a common seasoning worldwide, with a history of several thousand years of human consumption and use.

Aside from being a tasty addition garlic is super good for you. I won’t list all the stuff here but it’s good for everything from earaches to high cholesterol to cramps to helping your dog have a shiny coat.

There are different types of garlic in the spice isle, granulated, powder and dried minced.  We can compare them but the main thing is that the flavor is the same, there isn’t any problem when it comes to substituting one for the other.

The difference is the size of the granules. Granulated garlic has bigger granules, which means it has more air in it, resulting in less garlic when spooned out in an amount equal to powder. Meanwhile, finer garlic has a higher intensity in an equivalent amount to the granulated kind. So, if you are subbing granulated garlic for the powdered variety, be sure to use more – and vice versa if you’re subbing powder for granulated! 

For soups and different types of wet dishes, granulated garlic is the better choice since it’s less likely to form clumps. It’s also lovely for making spice rubs or blends because it mixes in evenly. I also use a combination of fresh garlic and granulated in stocks.

For dishes that have shorter cooking times, powdered garlic delivers the flavor intensity better than granulated garlic. Powdered garlic also works better for wet marinades or for injection marinades because the fine powder isn’t likely to clog up your injector. Either can be used for sauces and dressings but sometimes the granules don’t dissolve and the mixture can be a tad grainy.

Now if the recipe calls for fresh garlic then use that because fresh garlic is usually cooked up at a higher temperature and the dried spices will burn and ruin the entire dish!

What about this fresh garlic? We have all been tempted to buy one of those jars of minced garlic in oil or even the fancy squirt bottle and doesn’t that roasted one just sound delicious and easy?? NO. NO. NO. Do not waste your precious grocery dollars on the shortcut!! The garlic in those pots has been in there for ages, losing everything that makes it beautiful. Instead spend a dollar on a couple of heads and conquer that beast yourself! 

Start with a glass jar with a lid then insert your cloves of garlic and shake those babies around until all the peel has come off! So much less work than trying to peel it off with a paring knife or fingernails. Now that you have fresh naked garlic you can slice, dice, mince, grate, press and make paste. Garlic paste is a lovely thing, just chop and chop and chop the garlic and add bits of salt to the chops as you go and after about 10 minutes you have a lovely paste that can be added to just about anything you can think of!

Roasting your own garlic is also super simple and it adds another layer of flavor that is a bit more umami  than plain garlic. Those heads that you bought? Cut the pointed end off far enough to expose the individual cloves, make little foil pouches and nestle the chopped heads into them and top them with a bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt, put them in the oven on 250 for 45 minutes or 350 for 30 minutes. Don’t be afraid to check on them but once they are mostly done your kitchen will smell like a batch of vampire repellent! After they have become golden brown take them out of the oven and then squeeze the cloves out into a bowl, they will keep for a few days so don’t feel like you need to use them all at once. And if they get a little too done as can sometimes happen then you can squeeze them out onto that same foil that they roasted in and put them in a very low heat oven and let them dry a little, this will make them almost like chips and those roasted chips can be used in soups and stews or as a topping!!

I am going to finish up with a bit about black garlic.  Black garlic is a kind of aged garlic which is made by heating the whole bulbs of garlic over the course of several weeks, a process that results in black cloves. The taste is sweet and syrupy and savory and is rich and kind of like balsamic vinegar or tamarind. Black garlic is on the pricey side so I haven’t had much opportunity to use it but I found a shaker of it by McCormick at my local grocery so I have been using it here and there but I have noticed that it really shines in veggie dishes, meats seem to take away some of the roasty flavor.

Thanks ya’ll! Happy cooking!


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