Sunday, 11 September 2011

Garlic, Buying, Storing and Peeling Tips

I don't know about you but peeling garlic seems a endless galley task. I use garlic in much of my cooking, for one I like the flavour and two it is a great natural antibiotic.

 Garlic has been know for centuries for its medical properties, in the time of the 'Black Death' plague the criminals that carried the bodies to the pits, placed crushed garlic cloves in there shoes and drank a glass of red wine to prevent getting the plague.  "The vinegar of four thieves" was a known remedy of the under world of plague times this was simple garlic vinegar and was known to keep the 'Black Death' away.

The Plague earliest noted records was in the 6th century. 'The Black Death' Plague in Europe reached its most devastating peak between 1348 and 1350. The Great Plague of London was 1665 - 1666, and Plague outbreaks still occur today, in 1994 five states of India had outbreaks of the Plague.  So a good idea to keep that garlic and red wine intake up ;).

Illustration of the Black Death from the Toggenburg Bible (1411)

Anyway on a lighter note.

How too easily peel garlic
So to easily peel garlic and to lose the stickiness of the skin simple place the cloves in hot boiling water wait 30 seconds, remove, chop the base off and peel.  This simple trick makes life so much easier.

Botulism and Garlic
Always buy fresh garlic to use and if not able to get to a good fresh supple for a while buy commercial jarred garlic.  Garlic doesn't freeze well and loses a lot of its great flavour.

 Warning do not store raw garlic in oil at room temperature this leads to botulism (clostridium botulinum) which is extremely serious and causes severe illness and death!!

  If using commercial garlic from a jar which is fine due to the processing, refrigerate and use up quickly.  So therefore fresh is best.

Buying and Storing Garlic

When buying garlic, ask where it has come from, always buy spray free and organic where possible and avoid commercial Chinese garlic, there methods of production are not good and includes bleaching the bulb to produce white cloves and prevent the garlic from growing shoots.

The bulb should be firm with plenty of dry papery skin covering the cloves and no sprouting but if there is some cloves sprouting when buying least you know a chemical hasn't been used to prevent this.

Store garlic in a cool dry place away from sunlight, do not store in the fridge or in plastic due to the fact bulb needs to have air around it to prevent sweating and becoming mouldy or sprouting.  Garlic is almost like yeast where it is a living thing until you cook it.   Seems a bit cruel really, wonder if you get plant activists for plant rights! lol.

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