Besides the fact that growing garlic is easy to do, it’s one of the widely acceptable ingredients for preparing meals. It is used in frying, seasoning food, you can bake bread out of it, and combine it with other food ingredients to make a healthy meal. Many people use it because of its ability to flavour a dish and bolster the user’s health.
A plethora of researchers in the past and present have tested and proved that garlic is useful in treating human disease. From cancer, common cold, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, to cardiovascular diseases, garlic reduces the risk of developing many illnesses and treats some.
You can rub garlic on your skin to get rid of fungal infections. We can attribute this success to the many compounds it contains.
At times, as revealed by a UK-based research team, it is intricate to explain and identify which compounds are effective on what condition, but the fact remains that garlic is useful.
With so many health benefits we can get from garlic, it’s a shame that we don’t focus on understanding it more and how it can help us.
So, I’ve rounded up everything you need to know about garlic, from growing garlic yourself, to answering cooking questions such as why is my garlic purple?
Types of Garlic
Garlic is a cousin to onions, leeks, and shallots. They are all in the Allium family. Just like onions, it comes in an array of types.
The grey variety you know is just one among hundreds (some studies say there are 600 types of garlic). And as you can guess, they grow in different environments, soils, and climate.
Because of their different origins, they taste different as well. Some of the unique garlic varieties you might encounter include Nootka Rose, Transylvanian, Georgian Fire, among hundreds of others.
However, to make the choosing process simpler, you can divide garlic into two categories; hardneck garlic and softneck garlic.
1) Hardneck Garlic
This garlic is the type that comes with a hard woody stalk in the middle of the bulb. You can pluck this stem when it’s still young and soft to use for cooking if you have them in your garden. They provide a mild garlicky flavor when used. This garlic type comes with fewer yet larger cloves. Peeling it is easier, making them great for individuals who love quick preparation. However, they are not storable like softneck garlic.
2) Softneck Garlic
With softneck garlic, you don’t need to worry about a stem sticking out in the middle of the bulb. Naturally, it also comes with more cloves that are smaller in size. The cloves might be four to eight on a single garlic bulb (with varied sizes), offering you options for cooking various recipes with it. You can store the softneck garlic longer (about three months when frozen).
3) Japanese garlic
One of the notable garlic types you’ll get in the market is the Japanese garlic. Don’t let the name mislead you – it is not Japanese. It is a garlic type that has a large bulb that carries five to seven cloves. This garlic derives its name from a belief that it came from a Japanese farmer somewhere in America.
Apart from the Japanese garlic, there are other garlic alternatives with names that resemble where they originated, their size, and shapes. Elephant garlic is big, explaining why they possess the name of the big animal.
How to Find Wild Garlic
If you’ve heard about the delicious whipped soup of wild garlic and its edible flowers and leaves, what comes to mind next is always where and how to find it. There is no better time to go looking for wild garlic than in the late Spring.
And you want to start your forage in old woodlands. You might need to ask for permission from the property owners, so you won’t be accused of trespassing. Study foraging law as well because wild plants are protected by law.
When your search begins, you’ll probably notice first the dense clusters of its flowers and the green leaves. They often grow in damp places where they easily develop in plenty, making them easy to notice.
Move closer and make sure they are what you are looking for. You then want to pick responsibly without destroying them permanently. It is advisable to pick in places with a lot of supply.
Don’t be greedy, take enough for yourself and leave some for wildlife. While you conduct your wild garlic search, make sure you don’t disturb habitats.
Wild garlic is edible from its leaves, flowers, to the bulbs. Once you’ve got it, take whatever you need on the plant and go home prepare some pate sandwich or any other meal you desire because it is edible just like other alliums.
Why Is My Garlic Purple?
As mentioned before, garlic comes in a variety of sizes, different development styles, and colors as well. Therefore, it is common to find purple garlic. Elephant garlic is such an example. However, your garlic might start as white and after exposure to different environments, it changes color. Anthocyanins make part of garlic and they contain soluble pigments that cause the color change. Therefore, when you expose your garlic in an acidic environment, you might notice it turn into purple or at times blue. However, this shouldn’t be a concern.
When garlic is still hard, it is often safe to use. Unless you’ve exposed it to toxic conditions that make them harmful for consumption. If when you press your garlic bulb feel hollowness, it is better to bin it. That means it’s going bad. In most cases, this will come with an off-putting odor with it.
When garlic is attacked by bacteria and molds, it can change to other colors like clay, black, green, brown, among others. So beware of these changes and avoid using the cloves.
You might notice your garlic change its color to purple when you cook. That could be a reaction to the metal components in the water you are using in the cooking process. But that doesn’t make the garlic bad for consumption.
While most of us only know about garlic with the pungent smell it has, we don’t realize there is alternative odorless garlic. Garlic has its smell because of a component known as allicin. Therefore, the alternatives that lack the smell, are having little to no allicin components.
There are garlic types harvested without smell. Garlic also loses the smell the older it becomes. But health supplement vendors have ways to tamper with the amount of allicin in garlic to help the users (patients) take their products without worrying about the smell.
How to Plant and Grow Garlic
When we started this article, we mentioned that it is easy to grow garlic. They can grow anywhere as long as the place has enough water and light. You’ll find it growing in a port or anywhere in an enclosed place. You can grow your garlic virtually anywhere around your home.
All you need to do is get a suitable seed to grow. That is to say that when you buy some at the local store, identify the size of the cloves you desire and put them in soil. With moist conditions, it will germinate and develop into a healthy bulb. You can experiment with many types available around your place. It is also possible to try new flavors from afar. Just carry one when you travel somewhere or place an order for someone to bring them to you.
How to Harvest Your Garlic
Garlic bulbs will often be covered by soil. Therefore, it will be impossible to look and see that they’ve matured enough. So how do you know it’s time to harvest?
The first sign you should look out for is its squiggles. They are the part that develops into flowers. When they show that they are ready to sprout, that shows what is underground is mature. These parts can be cut and used as an ingredient if you want to. The other thing is looking at the leaves. When the bottom ones start browning, that shows the garlic bulb is grown enough. This is the perfect moment to stop watering it. Then wait for a week before you can harvest them. The harvesting process requires some work because the roots are often deep, requiring you to dig and pull hard.
Using a fork or a shovel is ideal because they can reach and lift the bulb without taking too much energy. The bulbs and the stem are often soiled. You need to shake the dirt off without interfering with the cover. Do not wash! Doing this will expose them to elements that can cause rotting.
There are great easy-to-follow tutorials online on how to make garlic oil at home. They involve How to Cure Your Garlic
Garlic will taste better if you cure it for sometimes. This move helps in concentrating the flavors and makes it last longer.
Create a rack with a meshy top where you can place your garlic bulbs with half their stalk on top of it. The meshy surface ensures air is circulating properly for natural curing. Arrange the garlic in a single layer for this to be effective. You don’t want to expose the garlic directly into the sunlight and heat. This process can take place for about 14 days. The aroma of garlic will fill the air during this period.
Storing Your Garlic
After two weeks of curing, you’ll have garlic that’s ready for storage. Use a trimmer to cut off the stems, so they can fit in your storage space. Avoid cutting with anything that might introduce contaminants like scissors. Don’t separate the gloves. Choose larger cloves in your batch to grow in the future. Cloves have no intricate storage demands as long as you put them at room temperature and in darkness, they will last several months. Storing roasted garlic in a freezer can last you three months. But if you refrigerate them whole, they sprout after a few days. Only separate cloves of garlic you plan to use in the next ten days.
Illnesses that Garlic Helps to Treat and Prevent
Garlic has undergone scientific studies and proven it treats and prevents a lot of diseases. There are garlic components that have been used to make medicine and supplements for a long time. We can attribute this success to the many compounds it contains (most of which are medicinal). Some of the diseases it prevents and treats include: treating the common cold, reducing blood pressure, bolstering cholesterol levels, lowering the dangers of heart disease, preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and improving the health of your bones, among others.
Eating garlic can also help you detoxify metals from your system, improve your physical performance, and generally help you live longer according to science-based researches.
Growing Garlic – What to Do with Lots of Garlic
Garlic has a lot of uses. So if you’re growing garlic yourself and have planted, harvested, and have a lot in store, there is an array of ways to use it to gain its benefits.
As mentioned before, garlic is healthy to eat because of its ability to treat illnesses like flu and the common cold, plus major diseases that affect bones, muscles, and other internal organs. Even rubbing on the skin can improve its appearance.
Here are things you can do with lots of garlic, especially if you’re growing garlic at home.
- Use it to combat illnesses – Garlic contains properties that make it boost one’s immunity. If you use it, you can cure colds and other illnesses by taking supplements. Some people boil water and add ground garlic in it, plus lemon juice. Then drink. Growing garlic and using it frequently ensures you keep off cold by 63%.
- Make garlic oil – There are great easy-to-follow tutorials online on how to make garlic oil at home. They involve crushing, boiling, and mixing your crushed results with regular oil then keeping the mixture in a clean jar. Use your garlic oil to cook all kinds of meals and enjoy its benefits.
- Spread it on bread – You can make a healthy spread with your garlic and spread it on bread for your breakfast. Do this by blending your garlic in butter to get a nutritious spread you’ll want to use over and again.
- Make garlic bread – If you bake at home, there is no better ingredient to add to your dough than garlic. Crush four garlic cloves and mix them when knitting the dough. By the end of it, you have bread with the sweet garlicky flavored bread. Serve it with coffee or tea and enjoy!
- Make garlic salt – Making garlic salt is a straightforward process. Just grind the cloves into powder and mix it with your table salt. Then use it whenever you are cooking.
- Roast your garlic – When you roast your cloves, you improve its flavor and well as make it softer. You can then use your roasted garlic in preparing your meals accordingly.
- Garlic mayonnaise – Creating garlic mayonnaise also known as aioli requires you to mince the cloves. Mix it with pepper and a bit of salt to create a smooth product that will stir into mayonnaise. Then add lemon juice in the mixture then use it anywhere you would use your regular mayonnaise.
Garlicky Dishes You Should Try at Home
As you’ve seen, you can use garlic in many ways to enjoy its benefits. In the same way, there are plenty of recipes you can try when it comes to growing garlic and using garlic as an ingredient. Here are 10 dishes you should try.
1) Lemon Garlic Scallop Pasta
If you are the kind that enjoys richly flavored meals, then the savory lemon garlic pasta will entertain your taste buds. The process entails scallops searing to brown. Afterward, use some oil, a little butter, and top it with garlic including lemon juice. Serve it warm and enjoy yourself with friends and family.
2) Herb and Garlic Salad
Looking for a healthy salad to go with your meals? A combination of herbs and garlic will come in handy. You can add in as much garlic as you need as long as you enjoy the taste. Minced or chopped garlic will still work great.
3) Roasted Garlic Chicken
Roasted garlic chicken is an amazing dish. All you need is to roast your chicken meatballs or the whole chicken well and season it with roasted ground garlic, salt, and pepper. Some people will use butter in their preparation to give it a tender feel. Serve your garlic-seasoned chicken with fresh herbs with bread for lunch.
4) Pierogi Pizza
The combination of pizza and potato dumplings produces this amazing food. The potatoes are mashed together with garlic and then baked. You can then blanket it in cheese to get a dish with a crispy base and a soft top.
5) Garlic Bread
An aroma of the combination of cheese and garlic on bread as it bakes will invite many. All you need is to knead dough plus a mixture of cheese and garlic and let it bake slowly in low heat. The tasty bread can be served with tea or coffee at any time of the day.
6) Potato and Roasted Garlic Soup
Nourish and warm the winter with a bowl of potato and roasted garlic soup. Roasted garlic is used to season the potato soup. You can add salt and cheese for the perfect smooth solution for the cold.
7) Garlic Butter Mushroom Skillet
Transform your already good mushroom into a great dish with the help of thyme, butter, and garlic. To prepare this meal will take under ten minutes. Make is a dinner course by taking it with fish, chicken, or steak.
8) Garlic Beef and Broccoli
Get your pieces of meat seasoned with garlic salt and combine it with broccoli. This tasty food can go well with boiled rice.
9) Grilled Garlicky Steaks
Meat lovers can prepare an appetizing steak flavored in garlic and salt. Next time you are having a garden barbecue, this garlicky dish will make your evening exceptional.
10) Garlic Lime Salmon
Your deep-fried or baked salmon will taste better with garlic seasoning, plus lemon juice. Serve your garlic-lime salmon with cabs for a complete dish.
How Much Garlic Should I Eat Per Day?
There is no proof that when you eat too much garlic it might harm you. But just like any other good thing in life, you don’t want to overdo it!
For the sake of keeping garlic consumption under check, it’s recommended that you take the utmost two cloves per day of raw garlic. If you are taking aged garlic, it is fine to take 300 milligrams thrice a day of ground garlic.
The Risks of Garlic
Some people need to be cautious when it comes to eating or using garlic in any way. The first group is those who have had surgery recently. Taking garlic can impede coagulants from performing their duty. That means you’ll take longer to heal. Some individuals are allergic to garlic. You might get a rash, fever, or headache. In some instances, using garlic might cause anaphylaxis which could potentially kill you.
Applying garlic on your skin should happen with caution. It has diallyl disulfide that can irritate the skin or blisters and patches. You need to avoid using it directly on the skin or combining it with other products to reduce the irritating effects it has.
To pets, eating garlic is fatal. Whether cooked or raw garlic destroys the red blood cells which lead to anemia. Compared to other Allium products, garlic is stronger and can have speedy effects on your pet. You, therefore, need to be very alert if you own one.
All You Need to Know About Garlic
That is all you should know about garlic. From our discussion, garlic is a great product. It is not just easy to plant, but is also very easy to harvest, cure, and store. Consuming it is useful to the body, helping treat diseases as well as improve body immunity to fight off illnesses.
The best part is that there are numerous ways we can consume garlic. From baking it in bread and biscuits, grinding and mixing it with salt, seasoning meals with it, to eating the cloves directly, all dishes deserve some garlic. It’s a great source of nutrients and a good ingredient for most meals.