Ever walked into a home while garlic is either sizzling in a skillet or roasting in the oven? The scent is one of the most mouthwatering imaginable. Garlic, fresh or roasted, is great for seasoning lighter recipes because it imparts flavor and aroma without adding fat and calories. From bread to chicken, we think you'll love these savory choices.
- Garlic bulbs or heads are made up of sections called cloves.
- Purchase firm bulbs with dry skins. Avoid bulbs with soft or shriveled cloves or those with green shoots sprouting from the top.
- Store fresh garlic in an open container, such as a basket (away from other foods) in a cool, dark place.
- Garlic will burn and turn bitter quickly when cooked at high heat. If you're sautéing other veggies such as peppers or onions for the same dish, add the garlic last and sauté briefly (30 seconds to 1 minute).
- Two medium cloves equal about 1 teaspoon minced garlic (depending on clove size). Minced garlic in jars may be substituted for fresh, but jarred garlic tends to be stronger in flavor and aroma. Start with less than your recipe calls for, and increase to your liking. The longer minced garlic is stored in your fridge, the stronger it gets.
- Garlic powder may be substituted for fresh garlic, but the flavor will be different. Use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon for each garlic clove.
- If you're really pressed for time, buy pre-peeled garlic cloves in plastic jars in the produce section of your supermarket. Use them as you would fresh garlic.
- Elephant garlic (not a true garlic, but a relative of the leek) is milder than regular garlic.
- If you prepare homemade garlic-infused oil, do not store it at room temperature--refrigerate it for no more than 3 weeks. Some cases of botulism have been linked with home-prepared garlic oils. Commercially prepared garlic oils contain protective additives to prevent possible foodborne illness. For added safety, keep store-bought flavored oils in the refrigerator.
- To get rid of garlicky smelling hands, wet your hands with cold water; rub hands with table salt, and then wash with warm water and soap. Repeat, if necessary. Garlic breath is harder to get rid of. Some folks recommend chewing chlorophyll tablets or fresh parsley but there really isn't a perfect antidote.
Garlic and Good Health
Garlic is one of the oldest known medicinal plants. It works as a natural antibacterial, helping the body fight infections. It also helps prevent the formation of deadly blood clots and helps lower blood pressure. Several scientific studies suggest it lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, which could lower the incidence of heart disease. A National Cancer Institute study found that people whose diets are rich in garlic and its relatives (onions and leeks) have a lower incidence of stomach cancer than people who consume less garlic.
According to the American Dietetic Association, a review of 18 studies found that garlic can help lower cholesterol and keep blood thin if you eat 5 or more cloves a day. Garlic supplements didn't have the same effect.
Because scientists can't agree on exactly how much you need to prevent diseases, enjoy cooking with garlic, eat plenty of fresh fruits, veggies, and whole grains, and exercise at least 30 minutes every day--no excuses.