~ Garlic comes in its own unique package as a bulb, neatly wrapped in a papery skin. Depending on the variety, the skin will be white, purplish or pinkish with a hard neck or soft neck. The bulb will contain 12 to 25 individual cloves.
~ When buying fresh garlic choose fat, firm, round bulbs. Avoid bulbs with sprouted or withered cloves. Also, avoid Chinese garlic. It can be identified by its bare root bottom & is often packaged in a mesh “sock”. Remember, garlic is planted in the fall (Nov.) and harvested the following summer (Aug.) and the shelf life of fresh garlic is approximately 8-9 months when held properly. If you must use sprouted garlic, halve it and remove the green sprout.
~ Garlic should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place. Don’t store it in the refrigerator as it may start to sprout. If so, hurry and plant it in a pot or garden.
~ More garlic products to avoid: minced garlic in oil and the last and worst; garlic powder. This product is most often made with Chinese garlic and its strong bitter taste has no place in a serious kitchen as it tastes nothing like fresh garlic.
Tasty substitutes are available when garlic is out of season: fresh whole peeled garlic in the refrigerated section, chopped or minced dehydrated garlic, chopped, roasted dehydrated garlic are all tasty and taste like garlic. Buy domestic brands only.
~ Peeling garlic; separate the cloves and cut off the root end. Place the flat of a large chef’s knife on the clove and hit the knife lightly. The skin will pop off. Also, you can buy a tube shaped garlic peeler that will also easily take the skin off.
~ Cooking with garlic: to keep garlic from sticking to your knife chop with a pinch or two of salt. Tip…..the finer the garlic is chopped the more pungent it is. On the other end of the spectrum; roasted garlic or garlic cooked gently in olive oil until light brown become mild and buttery and may be used in many sauces or alone as a spread for good crusty bread or on a steak.
Make your own garlic flavored oil by gently cooking some smashed garlic cloves in olive oil. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for a few days. NEVER store at room temperature.
~ Garlic Breath? Well, we say “it’s chic to reek”. If you feel the need to be garlic breath free, try chewing some fresh parsley.
How to solve ALL your garlic needs: Garlic Festival Foods www.garlicfestival.com