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Pasteleria y Chocolates Gourmet – Gastronomia – Recetas

Garlic 101


So pretty much extended over the world, this simple but yet so complex in properties bulb gives us hard times frequently. I have seen many garlic lovers skip or avoid it in recipes just because they cant handle the colateral effects of having that strong smell in their hands after cooking.
So, lets first find out a bit more about this versatile bulb and its history.
The botanical name is Allium Sativum. In the herbal medicine world it is also known as “cure all” bulb. It shares the family with onion, shallot and leek.
When it comes to fighting infections, Garlic enjoys the reputation as nature’s most potent weapon against germs. Garlic is is said to pulverize viruses, bacteria and fungi. If you want to detoxify your body, lower blood pressure, promote healthy serum cholesterol and blood sugar levels and enhance your immune system
It is difficult to trace the origin of garlic, as it starts thousands of years ago and was rapidly expanded. Some claim that it was originated in asia and then expanded all over europe, some others claim garlic was originary from middle east countries.
How to buy garlic
When buying garlic, make sure the heads are dry with plenty of paper covering. If you can see green shoots then the garlic is probably too old and/or wasn’t dried properly. Garlic that is far too old will crumple under the slightest pressure from the fingers.
Avoid buying Elephant garlic – allium ampeloprasum – which is much alike normal garlic so people sometimes think it tastes better due to the big size of the cloves. But it doesnt. In terms of flavour, elephant garlic is to garlic what leeks are to onions. It is much less intense and sweeter. It has been described – rather unkindly – as “garlic for people who don’t like garlic”. Of course if you can find organic garlic at your local market, this would be the best garlic.
How NOT to store garlic
Never store raw garlic in oil. The sulphurs in the garlic are a prime breeding ground for botulism (clostridium botulinum). Botulism is a nasty toxin that can result in major stomach illness sometimes leading to death.
Garlic heads and cloves should never be stored in your fridge as it may cause the bulb to get soft and mouldy. The same problem is likely to occur if garlic is stored in a sealed plastic container
How to store garlic then?
Garlic needs to be stored in a cool place, away from direct sunlight. Breathing is also important for garlic to survive longer. So, always allow the correct air circulation. The best way to store garlic is using a garlic keeper which is specially designed with holes for that purpose. If garlic becomes soft or starts having sprouts, simply disregard it.
A single bulb of garlic usually contains from ten to twenty garlic cloves. Individual cloves are covered with a fine pinkish/purple skin. The head of cloves is then covered with white papery outer skin. Don’t confuse cloves and bulbs! Neither the inner nor outer skins should be eaten
In general with garlic, the finer the chop the stronger the taste. Crushed garlic has the strongest taste of all and if used raw is only for the real aficionado. When cooked whole garlic has a much milder, rather sweet taste.
Garlic can be used in many ways, raw or cooked, whole or just the cloves, smashed, crashed, baked, etc.
A couple of important things to keep in mind are the following:
a- Never let the garlic burn when cooking it or it will turn bitter and give bad taste to your dish. If a recipe calls to add garlic during sauteeing or other cooking thechnique watch out it doesnt burn. You can add it on one side of the skillet, let it cook a bit then remove it and add it at the end of the preparation. The sauteeing will have extracted all its flavor in a few mins. So you can reserve it and add it at the end.
b- Always remove the green sprout found in the center of garlic cloves sometimes. This gives strong and sometimes bitter taste to the food and it is what causes us to have that awful garlic breath and stomach pain after eating. Chewing parsley is reputed to assist in this.
So, lets now see what are the ways to handle this product for cooking:
1- How to crush garlic> It only takes a knife and a bit of salt. First put a bit of salt on your chopping board and then place a single unpeeled garlic clove on a chopping board. It should be placed flat. The salt will help the clove stay in its place and it will also absorb the garlic juices from crashing and you dont want to waste these. Now take a wide blade and place it flat over the clove and press down strongly with the palm of your hand. Be careful not to touch the sharp edge of your blade. You will find now that the skin can easily be removed. Discard the skin.
2- How to chop garlic: Having crushed your garlic clove or cloves in the way stated above, now proceed to chop it with your knife.
3- How to mash garlic : there are a couple of ways you can do this. Easiest one is after chopping it, place your knife’s blade in a flat position at one side of the chopped garlic. Starting at one end of the pile of chopped garlic, press down with the sharp edge of the knife. Move the knife a little further into the pile of chopped garlic and repeat. Keep doing this across the whole pile of garlic.
The salt also helps here since it prevents the garlic from pinging off the board and across the kitchen!. The other way is to use a garlic crusher / masher. This tool is like a claw, similar to the one used to crack nuts, and has small holes on one of the sides so when you place a garlic clove and then press one side against the other the mashed garlic will come out through these holes.
4- Using Garlic Powder or Garlic scales: Garlic powder isn’t a true substitute for fresh
garlic – nothing could be – but it does have its advantages. It usually lasts for a long while and a little goes a long way, so it’s a useful alternative to minced garlic for keeping in the kitchen store cupboard. In theory garlic powder is very simple: it’s just dehydrated garlic cloves that have been ground to a powder. Some of the high quality brands you can buy are just that, pure garlic.
Not all of the garlic powder on the market is pure. Sometimes artificial ingredients are added to “improve” the colour or flavour. As always, it’s worth checking the ingredients before you buy.
Garlic scales are simply dehidrated garlic cloves that have been thinly sliced and chopped roughly.
So, as I have stated before, garlic turns much softer and sweeter when it is cooked. What are some ways of cooking it? Well, I really appreciate the taste garlic gives to many of our recipes, but I completely hated the after smell in my hands. So I set up in finding ways to deal with this after effects as I was not going to give up using garlic. So here is what my experience in the kitchen and some books taught me about handling and using garlic.
First you can obtain a delicious garlic puree which you can store in your fridge for up to two weeks. Simply wrap a garlic head, skin on, into a double layer of aluminium foil and place it on a pan and inside your oven (low temp) for 45 to 60 mins depending on the size of the head. (you may add a little bit of olive oil to the garlic too) You can do this when you use your oven for cooking other dishes and you store it for future use. Once the time has passed, carefully open the uper side of the wrapping, watching for the hot smoke it may come out from the cooking of the garlic and without taking the garlic out, press the wrapped garlic head with your hands and a soft puree will come out easily.
You can also “cook”garlic cloves in oil (not fry), and use this same oil to store them afterwards and season salads or other dishes as well. Place one or two heads of crushed garlic cloves into a skillet with abundant olive (or veg oil, olive is better for me), enough to cover your cloves and a bit more.
Place this over medium to low flame and let them cook in the oil watching out the oil reaches a temperature not higher than 80 degrees celsius. If you do not have a kitchen thermometre, you can know this by simply not letting the oil boil. Cook this for one hour or so or until cloves are completely tender.
You can store garlic cloves in this same oil for couple of months.
In these ways garlic is more tolerable for people with sensitive stomachs but who like garlic a lot at the same time.
just remember when handling raw garlic that you must remove the green sprout from the cloves if present, to avoid bad breath and bitter taste.
Another way to handle garlic is like many chefs do at restaurants. They simply use latex gloves which they disregard after cooking.
So lets focus now on what to do if we still get this bad smell in our hands after cooking with garlic.
Well the things that work the most in this case are to slide your hands along a stainless steel surface after cooking. You can reinforce this by spreading some lemmon juice on your hands too.
Some people also recommend to wash your hands with warm milk. But the first one works just fine for me.
If you still have further questions or concerns about this or any other topic, you can contact me by email at foodiesgoodies@gmail.com

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