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Garlic

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Preview of Garlic

Available

August 15 - February 15

Harvest Period

August 15 - October 31

Garlic has been consumed as a food for thousands of years but, more often than not, it was considered a food for the poorer classes – the soldiers, labourers, and farmers. Across many cultures, over hundreds of centuries, garlic has been considered to have antibacterial and cardio protective properties, and current research is beginning to support the ancient herbalists.

What to Look For

Look for firm bulbs completely enclosed in their paper skins.  If bulbs are soft to the touch, wrinkled or show black mouldy spots, they are past their prime.  Fresh, unpeeled garlic should not have an odour.

Cleaning and Preparation

To peel garlic, crush the whole clove under a chef’s knife or potato masher.  The papery skin falls away easily. The crushed garlic can then be chopped finely or left whole, depending on your recipe.

Storage

Hard necked garlic (the kind with the woody core between the cloves) is a better keeper than the soft necked varieties, and it also has more intense garlic flavour.  If kept at room temperature in a well ventilated container away from bright light, fresh garlic will keep for up to 3 months.

Nutritional Information

Garlic has high levels of vitamins C and B6, as well as selenium and manganese.  Its real power lies in the phytonutrients, allicin and sulphides, which are released when the plant cells are ruptured with a knife.

1 clove (3g) of garlic has 4 calories, 0g fat, 1 g carbohydrate, 0.1g fibre, and 0.2g protein.

How to Use

In order to maximize the health benefits of allicin and sulphides, garlic should be chopped and left for 10 minutes before adding to food.  While allicin doesn’t stand up to heat (a good reason to add garlic to a dish just before serving), sulphides do withstand the cooking process.

Slow gentle cooking mellows the flavour of garlic.  High heat should be avoided since garlic burns easily, producing an unpleasant flavour.

Varieties

Garlic is divided into two subspecies: Hard neck garlic grows easily in cooler climates and is notable for the woody core that divides the cloves; Soft neck garlic is often imported from warmer countries.

Music is the most commonly grown hard neck in Ontario and is now generally recognized as The Ontario garlic.  Fishlake, French Rocambole, and Majestic are other hard necks grown in this province.