Garlic


It was the second lesson of my Hot & Spicy cookery this evening. It was a roaring success and we are all full and content now. One of the things I notice is that almost every dish contains garlic. Here in the Northern Hemisphere garlic should have been planted by now. Plant on the longest day and harvest on the shortest day goes the old wives tale. We haven’t planted yet though as the ground is so wet I am expecting it to rot as soon as it is in the ground. We will eave it a couple more weeks and then it must go in or we miss our chance for this year.

Last year the garlic was one of our most successful crops. Whilst the blight killed everything from the potatoes family, including the expected massive crop of tomatoes, the peppers, aubergine and chillies, the garlic, and the red onions, went from strength to strength.

When we harvested in the summer we had sufficient to have fresh garlic for both of our families to last up until Christmas. We then went on the using the peeled garlic cloves which I had preserved in Olive Oil (from my friends farm in Crete – thank you Sue) and we are using that still. I just peeled the cloves and removed any bits which didn’t look 100% perfect. Packed them into glass jars which could be sealed. Topped them up with the organic extra virgin olive oil from Sue and they were ready. The pieces can now be crushed, or more like squashed, for use in stir frys, soups and stews.

A few things I have found odd when growing garlic. I don’t seem to be able to grow from the prior year crop. I have to buy seed garlic each year. Maybe they are bred to be produce infertile cloves from the first clove. The cloves were planted last year were all from the isle of Wight. This isn’t far from us and is quite famous for its garlic now. They have an annual festival with garlic fudge and garlic ice cream (just as bad as it sounds, in my opinion) as well as garlicky stir frys, sweet corn and various other street foods for sale. Worth a visit if you are can get there in August. Mungo Jerry & The Brotherhood of Man provided the entertainment last year!

On the health front Garlic is claimed to help prevent heart disease including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cancer.

In 2007 a BBC news story reported that Allium sativum may have beneficial properties, such as preventing and fighting the common cold. This assertion has the backing of long tradition. Traditional British herbalism used garlic for hoarseness and coughs.

In 1858, Louis Pasteur observed garlic's antibacterial activity, and it was used as an antiseptic to prevent gangrene during World War I and World War II.

The primary compound of interest from this reaction, allicin, is generally deactivated during cooking due to its instability, and may be more beneficial consumed raw. When crushed, Garlic yields allicin, a powerful antibiotic and anti-fungal compound .

I will publish some of the recipes which our teacher has given over the coming weeks. There are all simple,delicious and healthy. Hope you enjoy them.

Comments

  1. I've always been warned against putting garlic cloves into olive oil for longer than about 2 weeks (and stored in the fridge) because of the risk of botulism. Apparently small air bubbled can get trapped by the side of the garlic when it goes into the oil, smaller than the eye can see, and they provide a perfect breeding ground for nasties like botulism.

    I'm sure there's a way to preserve garlic that way without the botulism, certainly shop bought garlic in olive oil is going to be okay, but i just thought i would warn about that.

    I'm growing garlic for the first time this year, like you, i've chosen not to put it in the ground yet, because its so wet. i'm worried though, that even when i do get it in, it won't be cold enough for the dormancy period, so i was wondering: would it be a good idea to put it in the fridge for a bit? (it certainly seems to work on shop bought garlic left in the fridge for too long!)

    we love garlic - OH is dutch, so there almost is no such thing as too much of it. We get through a couple cloves a week. wonderful stuff!!

    keth
    xx

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  2. Hi Kethry
    Thank you for letting me know. I have been reading up on it since I read your comment earlier and it looks as though botulism is in the soil and not destroyed by anything you can do, so not something you can control. I think it wont be how I preserve my garlic in future for sure.
    I am going to leave my garlic until February before I plant it because February is often colder than January and December. If it doesnt dry up a bit by then I'll will start worrying about the fridgemethod!
    I am intersted in your Dutch UH being so keen on garlic because my Dutch friends, from Amsterdam but now in Almere since the children arrived, and another in Rotterdam, always tell me that Dutch food shouldn't have too much taste, preferably not even salt.
    I am beginning to get a bit worried about how much we get through sometimes, I wonder if my house smells too. Ah,well,its worth it!
    Best Wishes
    Liz
    xx

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  3. Lizzie - Dutch food can be quite bland, yes, you only have to look at hutsput and beroenkool for that (basically mash variations - hutsput is mash with carrots and onions, boroenkool is mash with onions and kale i think) but OH is also part indonesian through his father's family, about 1/8th Indonesian and he grew up with a strong tradition of indonesian food as well as his dutch heritage and i think that has done a great deal to flavour his tastebuds. In addition his family travelled a bit when he was a child, so he was exposed to other european foods like french and german foods, so that makes a difference i think.

    I'm extremely fortunate in that OH loves food, and will eat a wide variety of food - in fact, he'll eat stuff that i turn my nose up at, even on the (rare) occasions i get things wrong, or burn things, he'll eat them where i won't. About all he'll say is .. "lets not have that again". lol. it gives me tremendous freedom as a cook, as i know i can try out almost anything.

    Anyway. i wouldn't worry too much about getting through too much - its good for you. And if your house smells of it, then this house must stink to high heaven!!!

    keth
    xx

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  4. I think I have had boroenkool. We had it with a sausage and melted butter. Indonesian sounds like it might be pretty spicy too. Nice combination.
    Yep, and we will keep the vampires away!

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