Learn About Garlic

Author: Chef Toby

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What is Garlic?

Garlic is a small vegetable, belonging to the allium family of vegetables along with onions, leeks, and shallots. It is a popular vegetable and flavoring all over the world and is a common flavoring in European, Asian, and Latin American cuisine. Garlic grows underground, as a bulb, with long green shoots that grow above ground. The garlic bulb, or head of garlic, is wrapped in a papery skin and is comprised of many cloves, which are also wrapped in the papery skin. Garlic cloves themselves are white to pale cream color, while the papery skin can range from white to light brown with streaks of purple or green. 

Whole Garlic Bulbs With Shoots Still Attatched - Kids Are Great Cooks
Whole garlic bulbs with shoots still attached.

What does Garlic taste like?

Raw garlic can have a strong, pungent smell and taste, similar to a raw onion. For this reason, garlic is often cooked to soften or mellow out its flavor.

How do you eat Garlic?

Garlic can be used in a variety of different ways to add flavor to different dishes. You can add it to almost any savory dish to add flavor. Raw garlic is often minced and added in small amounts to salad dressings and salads. Minced garlic is also often added to stir-fries, meat dishes, soups, pasta dishes, and stews. You can also add whole garlic cloves to dishes which can then be easily removed after the dish is infused with flavor. Whole heads can also be roasted with olive oil, making the cloves soft enough to form into a paste to use in different dishes. 

Add The Beans, Water Salt And Garlic To Pot And Bring To Boil
A whole garlic clove added to a pot of beans, water and salt prior to cooking on the stove top.

Where can you buy Garlic?

Garlic can be purchased at any grocery store, and usually found in the produce section, near the onions. It is commonly sold in whole heads, but can also be purchased in large bags of peeled whole cloves. You can also find garlic that is pre-minced and sold in jars or containers near the other refrigerated vegetables.

How do you store Garlic?

Whole heads can be stored at room temperature in an open container or a garlic container. Whole peeled cloves should be kept refrigerated in a plastic bag for up to two weeks.

Fun Fact

For thousands of years, garlic has been used for medicinal purposes. Garlic is known for containing many antioxidants and vitamins and is great for promoting heart health, reducing the risk of dementia, and reducing the effect of cold and flu. 

Did you know?

Garlic originates from central Asia, and comes in over 450 varieties, such as elephant garlic.

Our Recipes Using Garlic

For the Kids Are Great Cooks pinto beans video recipe, we use whole garlic cloves to season our beans.

Homemade Pinto Beans
Homemade Pinto Beans

Our delicious and savory pork carnitas recipe also uses garlic cloves embedded in the pork shoulder.

Authentic Mexican Carnitas
Authentic Mexican Carnitas

Recipes Using Garlic

Garlic Bread

To make this tasty side, start by combining minced garlic with softened butter, chopping parsley, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese until a paste forms. Spread the paste on sliced french bread and bake on a baking sheet in the oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden brown. 

Fresh Tomato Bruchetta

Make this popular Italian appetizer by combining diced Roma tomatoes, minced garlic cloves, chopped basil, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a bowl. Let the mixture sit in the fridge for about an hour to let the flavors develop and serve with toasted bread.  

Sauteed Mushrooms

This delicious vegetable side dish is a great addition to many different kinds of meals. To make them, start by melting butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Then add crushed garlic cloves and sliced mushrooms of your choice (we suggest baby portobello mushrooms or white mushrooms!) Sautee the mushrooms until soft, and season with salt and pepper. Remove the cloves before serving.


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