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Common Name

Latin Name Family Country/Origin
Allium sativum Alliaceae Unknown

Garlic is a whole food that has it all: an intense flavor, aromatic smell, numerous medicinal properties and a rich folklore.

Cultivated for more than 5,000 years, garlic played an important role in the histories of many cultures. The ancient Egyptians as well as the Greeks and Romans thought garlic to be a source of strength.

The Egyptians even fed it to slaves building the great pyramids. Roman and Greek athletes and soldiers would consume vast quantities of garlic before engaging in competition or battle.

In ancient Greece, garlic was left at junctions for Hecate, the Greek goddess of cross-roads. Garlic is mentioned in the Bible which tells that when Satan left the Garden of Eden garlic and onions were left in his footprints.

Garlic made its way across Europe and to the New World by way of traders and explorers. Thought to have magical properties as well as restorative, garlic was often used as a means of protection in Europe against evil beings such as werewolves, vampires and snakes. Braids of garlic were made upon harvest and hung in people's homes. Still today in many European cultures, a braid of garlic is the default housewarming or hostess gift.

"The stinking rose" as garlic has become to be known, is a bulb belonging to the lily family. The bulb is made up of approximately ten individual cloves that are easily removable by hand, each covered in a white, flaky skin similar to that of an onion.

Varying in size, raw garlic has a strong odor that smells quite different upon cooking. When raw, garlic is hot, pungent and intense, with a long lasting aftertaste. The odor is often absorbed into the body and released over time in the breath and perspiration.

Depending on how it is cooked, garlic loses varying degrees of flavor intensity. Generally, the longer it is cooked, the more gentle the flavor. Fresh roasted garlic takes on a nutty sweet flavor and entire bulbs of roast garlic can be consumed without danger of lingering odors. Exercise caution when frying or browning garlic as it burns very easily and the oil becomes rancid.

Dried garlic has a nutty, crunchy quality and can be used to flavor all varieties of food. Dried and ground garlic, or garlic powder is extremely strong and should be used sparingly as it can easily overwhelm a dish and remain on the palette a very long time.

Purported Medicinal Qualities*

Garlic enjoys top billing as a natural medicine and written and oral histories as well as contemporary naturopathy and homeopathy, rely heavily on garlic.

Rich in vitamins and minerals, garlic has been used to treat everything from high cholesterol and heart disease to cancer and was once used as protection against the plague. Its strong anti-bacterial properties have been used in war to treat wounds and detoxify the body. Garlic is perhaps best known for its immune-boosting qualities and is prescribed as a preventative aid or cure to fight afflictions of all kinds.

To receive all of garlic's health benefits, it is best to consume it raw after it has been crushed and left to sit for several minutes. Deodorized garlic tablets are a popular and effective alternative to consuming raw garlic.

Historically, garlic has been used to:

  • Lower cholesterol, blood sugar and triglycerides
  • Reduce high blood pressure
  • Fight infection
  • Enhance strength
  • Enhance virility
  • As an anti-oxidant
  • As a source of vitamin A, B6 and C, potassium, selenium, zinc and sulphur compounds
  • As an anti-bacterial
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Prevent colds
  • Prevent vascular calcification
  • Aid digestion
  • As a diuretic

*Always check with your healthcare provider before consuming, inhaling or otherwise ingesting any non-prescription or prescription natural or homeopathic substance or pharmaceutical. is not recommending, suggesting, inferring or otherwise endorsing the use of any herb or spice as a medication.

Culinary/Suggested Use

Throughout the world, garlic is one of the most popular culinary ingredients. Salt and pepper are likely the only two food additives with broader reach.

Garlic is used in the preparation of all food groups -- everything from fish, to pasta sauces to vegetables. Garlic even finds its way into desserts.

Fresh garlic should be firm and well hydrated with the skin intact. The skin should be removed before cooking, and left on only if you plan to roast the entire bulb.  Food for thought:

  • Add minced garlic to strongly pasta sauce, salsa, ground beef, stews, soups, marinades etc.
  • Saute fresh garlic in oil to soften the flavor before adding to any food.
  • Add a few cloves of fresh or roasted garlic to olive oil for flavor, but be sure to store it in the fridge
  • When cutting, mincing or chopping garlic, use a dash of salt to absorb the juices
  • Combine garlic, eggs and olive oil to make classic aioli
  • Add fresh or dried garlic to curry pastes
  • Sprinkle dried roasted garlic (not powder) over salads and soups
  • To roast garlic, slice the top ½" or so from several bulbs of garlic and place on a baking tray, drizzle generously with olive oil and roast in a 400° oven for 30-45 minutes. Squeeze warm garlic nuts onto baguettes or grilled sourdough slices, or use to flavor soups and sauces.
  • Pickle garlic alone or with olives or classic dills.

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