Garlic has been integrated into cuisine from around the world for millennia. It is a basic staple for flavor and depth in just about everything you are cooking. Raw garlic is spicy and will add a funk to your breath; however, when garlic is cooked the flavor is sweetened and softened. In my opinion it is good to eat both ways.
Cultures around the world believe garlic has mystical powers. Indians hang garlic on their doors to keep themselves safe from evil. Europeans have been known to wear garlic around their necks to ward off demons, vampires and werewolves. Others believe garlic to be an aphrodisiac. Hindus believe it warms the body and increases one’s desires. Buddhists believe garlic stimulates sexual desire and aggressive drives, which is a direct distraction to meditation. The people of Islam say no raw garlic before mosque, as the odor distracts Muslims from prayer.
There are two major varieties of garlic: hard neck and soft neck. Hard neck is grown in cooler climates and soft neck is grown in warmer climates. Here in Wisconsin, hard neck varieties prosper. You typically plant your garlic cloves late in the season, middle of October into November, approximately three weeks before the ground freezes. Cover the crop with straw and let it over-winter. The plants will pop through the soil sometime in May and be ready for harvest in late July to early August.
Approximately a month prior to harvest, the garlic plants will sprout a flower stalk called a garlic scape (scapes are also delicious to eat). It is important to remove the scapes from the plant before they flower. When you cut the scapes, the plants push the last bit of energy down to pump up the bulb’s size. You will know it is time to harvest the whole garlic plants when the leaves begin to turn yellow and die. The fresh harvested garlic is called green garlic and can be incorporated into your cuisine. Garlic in this stage is very strong in flavor and juice so beware.
To store your freshly harvested garlic properly, hang the plants for a month or so in a dry environment to avoid mold and mildew. Cut the neck down to the bulb and cut off the roots. Voila! Your garlic is ready for long-term storage in a dry cool space.
Garlic is good for you! It has been proven to lower cholesterol and is associated with a lower risk of stomach cancer. There are also studies linking garlic to preventing common colds. Although it may make you stinky, it is delicious and healthy. Remember, eat garlic among friends!
Preheat oven to 325? F
8-10 whole bulbs of garlic
drizzle of olive oil
Leaving the bulbs intact and skins on, slice the very top of each bulb off. Align the bulbs in a baking dish, sliced side up. Drizzle with olive oil and cover with foil. Bake for approximately 30 minutes. Garlic is done when the bulbs are soft to the touch.
Roasted garlic can be spread directly on bread or incorporated into many dishes. Mix it with cream cheese and fresh herbs for a quick hors d’oeuvre.
Roasted Garlic, Spinach and Brie Bisque
1 sweet onion diced
1 shallot diced
3 Tbsp butter
6-8 bulbs of roasted garlic, removed from the skin and smashed
1 8-oz. bag of fresh spinach
2 quarts of chicken or veggie stock
1 pint of heavy whipping cream
½ lb. Brie cheese cut into chunks, rind removed
fresh thyme, Italian parsley, and chives
cracked black pepper and salt to taste
In a stockpot over medium-high heat, sauté the onion and shallot in butter. Keep the heat low enough so the onion does not brown but wilts and turns translucent. Cook 5-10 minutes. Add a bit of salt to the onions as they cook down. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add the heavy whipping cream, roasted garlic, and Brie, stirring constantly as it melts into the soup. Add the fresh spinach and stir. Finish with the fresh herbs: thyme, parsley and chives. Salt and pepper (I prefer cracked black pepper) to taste. Perfect for a blustery Autumn day.
Dinosaur Kale Garlic Salad
1 bunch of kale
juice of one lemon
4-6 cloves of raw garlic, diced small
1/8 cup of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Wash and trim the kale, remove the stems and ribs. Dry the kale. Toss the kale in a bowl with the garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Add the Parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. This is my favorite salad, hands down. My sister Meg developed this recipe while growing heaps of kale for her CSA, Steep Creek Farm. I personally cannot get enough of this salad. It is brilliant.
The Garlic-iest Garlic Bread Ever – You’ve been warned!
Preheat oven 350? F
1 long baguette
1 stick of butter – room temperature
1 bulb of garlic – diced small
handful of Italian flat-leafed parsley – chopped small
Keeping the baguette whole, make slices almost all the way through the bread, approximately one inch apart from one end of the bread to the other. In a bowl, mix the garlic, parsley and butter together. Spread a spoonful of the butter mixture into each slice of the bread. Wrap the baguette in foil and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy with your favorite pasta, soup or salad.
Garlic Preparation Tips
- I have found the easiest way to peel garlic is by removing each clove from the bulb and smashing it with the side of my knife. The skin peels right off.
- When your fingers have a lingering garlic smell, rub them against stainless steel. The metal neutralizes the odor.