Wednesday, April 10, 2013

All About Garlic

(taken from the TLC website)

Whole bulbs of store-bought garlic will keep for several months or more when stored at room temperature in a dry, dark place that has ample air circulation. Keep in mind, however, that garlic's lifetime decreases once you start removing cloves from the bulb.

Storing garlic uncovered, such as in a wire-mesh basket inside your cupboard or beneath a small overturned clay pot, is ideal.

You can also store garlic in a paper bag, egg carton, or mesh bag. Just be sure there is plenty of dry air and little light to inhibit sprouting. To avoid mold, do not refrigerate or store garlic in plastic bags.

If you've prepared more garlic than you need for a particular recipe, you can store minced garlic in the refrigerator in an air-tight container. Although the most active sulfur compound diminishes within a few hours, refrigeration will slightly slow the process. Use refrigerated garlic as soon as possible. Some people are tempted to freeze garlic, but this is not recommended because its texture changes, as does its flavor.
Garlic in the Kitchen

The first thing to remember about cooking with garlic is the difference between bulbs and cloves. The average teardrop-shape garlic bulb is about two inches wide and two inches tall. It typically contains about 10 to 20 individual cloves about the size of your thumbnail. Most recipes call for one or more cloves, not bulbs.

To separate the individual cloves from the bulb, place the bulb on a flat surface. Use the heel of your hand to apply firm but gentle pressure at an angle. The parchment layers will separate, allowing you to carefully remove as many cloves as you need.

Then, tenderly remove the thin covering on each individual clove. Most people reach for the plumpest cloves, but the smaller cloves have a more intense flavor.

Because one of garlic's most beneficial ingredients, allicin, is partially destroyed by cooking, you'll get the greatest health boost if you use it raw or only lightly cooked when you can. However, cooking garlic forms other healthy sulfur compounds, so you still receive benefits when you cook it.

Plan ahead so you can cut, crush, or chop your garlic and let it sit for 15 minutes or more before using it to activate the enzymes that turn alliin into allicin.
Peeling Garlic the Easy Way

To easily peel garlic, slice off each end of a clove. Then, turn your broad chef's knife sideways so the flat side is parallel to your cutting board and the sharp edge is facing away from you. Place your knife this way on top of the clove and give the blade a quick pop with the heel of your hand to lightly crush the garlic clove (you don't want to mash it). The papery skins then rub off easily.

If you're going to peel many garlic cloves at once, drop them into boiling water for 10 to 20 seconds. Then plunge them into cold water. The skins will slide right off between your thumb and forefinger.

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