The Joy of Garlic

It’s a natural antibiotic. It makes food taste amazing. And, it can grow at high altitudes. Garlic is one of nature’s finest gifts. It may smell intense and if you eat a lot of it, you, too, might smell like this unique plant. It’s a staple in most kitchens around the world.

Nicknamed “the stinking rose,” there’s even a national holiday honoring this benevolent bulb: April 19 is National Garlic Day. A species in the onion family, the garlic’s relatives include the mighty shallot, the delicious leek and the charming chive. Garlic is the third most popular spice behind salt and pepper.

If you are feeling like you might be getting sick, garlic can help reduce the effects of a cold or flu.

Garlic provides a plethora of health benefits and is filled with vitamins, minerals, essential enzymes and antioxidants, including vitamin B6, vitamin C, beta-carotene, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium and zinc. The cloves have been used for centuries for protection against bacterial, viral and parasitic infection. It strengthens the immune system. The garlic’s sulfur-containing compounds have anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties and help support the cardiovascular system.

It can be used to heal acne and cold sores when applied directly to the affected area. Not only a natural antibiotic, it’s an antifungal and believed to help reduce cholesterol.

If you are feeling like you might be getting sick, garlic can help reduce the effects of a cold or flu. Mince a clove of garlic super fine and put it in a tablespoon of lemon juice and down it. I found Terrible Tonic very helpful and I included the recipe below.

Garlic toast with avocado or butter is also another method for consuming garlic for medicinal purposes and it’s pretty tasty. Press a few cloves of garlic and smear them on toast.

Garlic is used in food preparation in almost every corner and culture in the world. Italian and Chinese food just wouldn’t be the same without garlic. There is no substitute for fresh garlic removed from the bulb. Dried garlic, garlic powder or minced garlic in a jar can’t compete with the flavor and properties of fresh garlic. It is best stored either in an uncovered or loosely covered container and kept in a cool, dark place away from heat and sunlight. This helps prevent it from sprouting. Garlic needs no refrigeration. Look for bulbs that are plump, have unbroken skin and are not soft, shriveled, moldy or have begun to sprout.

There are so many recipes that call for garlic — many where garlic is the star of the dish. Infuse oil with garlic for cooking or preparing salad. Roast a whole garlic bulb and smear the cooked garlic on French bread. Garlic kimchi with napa cabbage is excellent for your health and a great condiment on almost everything: eggs, rice and spinach. Kimchi bowl is one of my standard breakfasts.

Garlic aioli is delicious on steamed artichokes. Garlic escarole and white beans are a fabulous vegetarian main course. Garlic soup is a delicious way to enjoy the versatile clove. Scusa Italian Ristorante in South Lake Tahoe is renowned for its garlic soup.

However you peel your garlic — smashing with a knife is probably the most dangerous, while shaking it in a jar is one of the easiest methods to remove the papery skin — this delicious root vegetable augments the flavor of almost any food it’s added to.

Terrible Tonic Recipe
From the Kitchen of Priya Hutner

1 C apple cider vinegar
1 C water
5 cloves garlic, pressed
3 T honey

In a jar, mix apple cider vinegar and water. Press the garlic cloves in a garlic press and add to the liquid. Add honey — I prefer raw local honey. Shake the mixture. Drink two shots a day, one in the morning and one in the evening, until you feel better. It’s strong and intense, so be warned.