Garlic offers much more than fabulous flavor!
Garlic is a member of the onion family native to Asia and has been cultivated there for more than 5000 years. As far back as the ancient Egyptians, garlic has been acknowledged for having sacred as well as strength-enhancing qualities. Greek and Roman athletes ate garlic before sporting events and soldiers consumed it before going off to battle.
Today garlic is loved worldwide for its culinary and medicinal properties. Recently, many of its healthful properties have been scientifically validated. Garlic has been credited for benefits to the cardiovascular system, weight loss, controlling infections, and iron metabolism, just to name a few. Many studies are underway about garlic’s effect on a myriad of diseases and conditions.
Selection and Storage
For maximum culinary and health benefits, always choose fresh garlic. Garlic should be plump and firm to the touch. Store fresh garlic in a cool dark place which maintains its maximum freshness. It is not necessary to refrigerate garlic, and freezing reduces its flavor and changes its texture. If stored properly, fresh garlic should keep for about a month.
To break the bulb into cloves, roll firmly on a cutting board. Peel or tap the clove with a flat knife to loosen the skin. If there’s a green sprout, remove it.
Grating or chopping garlic stimulates the process that creates its health-giving qualities. Always allow the grated or chopped garlic to sit 5 minutes before eating, cooking or adding any other ingredients to the garlic. Microwaving whole cloves actually causes them to lose some of their nutritional qualities. So for maximum benefit, grate or chop and then let set for a few minutes.
Heat reduces the health-giving properties, so always add the garlic as late as possible and at the lowest heat possible. Also, when roasting garlic, use a lower oven temperature, about 250F.
There are many fantastic recipes that use garlic. One of our favorites is hummus. This particular version uses roasted garlic, which is of course, good all by itself on bread or in cooked dishes.
Roasted Garlic Hummus
- 2 cups canned or cooked chick peas (canned ones are available with no salt added)
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup warm water
- 1 large bulb garlic
- juice of 1 lemon (approximately 2-3 tablespoons)
- salt (approximated ¼ teaspoon)
Cut off the top of the garlic bulb to expose the tops of most of the cloves. Rub with olive oil, and place in Artists At Heart garlic roaster. Place in 250 oven for 1 ½-2 hours.
Allow to cool, then squeeze the garlic into a food processor. Add rinsed and drained chick peas (garbanzo beans) and all other ingredients, and blend until smooth. Scrape down bowl of processor. If the hummus is too thick, add additional olive oil until desired consistency is reached.
Serve with pita, zatar bread or vegetables. May be topped with toasted pine nuts, parsley or paprika.