Garlic is one of those things that I always have in the house. If I don’t I feel practically naked in the kitchen and that’s just scary. I mean who wants to be caught without it. It’s a total staple. Something that pops up in all sorts of recipes. That could be because it’s grown around the world. Plus, it’s really good for you. So what’s not to love?
Garlic, also known as, Allium Sativum is from the lily family – it’s cousins with leeks, chives, onions, and shallots. The bulb is the most commonly used part of the plant and it grows underground. The bulb is made up of a bunch of individual cloves that are wrapped in a white paper-like skin. Its one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. If fact it usage predates written history. Sanskrit records document it’s usage approximately 5,000 years ago. The Chinese have been using it for 3,000 years that we know of. It’s been around awhile.
Garlic is an excellent source of vitamin B6. It also contains manganese, selenium, vitamin c, and lots of minerals like phosphorous, calcium, potassium, iron, and copper. It has been used to treat atherosclerosis, coughs, dandruff, diarrhea, diphtheria, dysentery, earache, hypertension, hysteria, toothaches, vaginitis, and more. It’s also alleged to ward of those pesky vampires. Haha! Seriously though, many studies have shown that garlic decreases total serum cholesterol levels while increased HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It has been proven to lower blood pressure and has a long history when it comes to fighting infection. It’s antimicrobial properties are due to allicin. Allicin has been shown to be effective against colds, flu, stomach viruses, Candida yeast, and pathogenic microbes like tuberculosis and botulism. Garlic also offers protection against some cancers. Studies have shown that as few as two or more servings of garlic a week may help protect against colon cancer.
So how can we take advantage of all that garlic has to offer? Buy fresh garlic that is plump and with unbroken skin. Avoid garlic that is soft, mildewy, darkening, or sprouting. And, while tempting, avoid the garlic in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Fresh garlic should be stored at room temperature in an uncovered container. Keep it away from heat or direct sunlight. It should stay fresh for a couple of weeks to a couple of months.
What’s your favorite way to prepare or use garlic?