Spice Profile: Garlic Allium Sativum
Types of Garlic
Although most grocery stores only carry one type of garlic, there are many types being cultivated throughout the world. Garlic varieties are divided into two categories, hardneck and softneck. The variety you see in most grocery stores is softneck. It produces more cloves and has a lighter flavor than the strong bite of hardneck. Hardneck can be found at farmers markets and has lovely pinkish hue to the skins. It has a much stronger flavor than softneck. In addition, there is a beautiful pink variety of garlic called Creole.
The bulb referred to as elephant garlic is actually not garlic at all, but rather a variety of leek. It can be used in place of garlic, but has a milder, somewhat onion-y flavor.
What is Garlic?
Garlic is one of the earliest cultivated herbs. It is a bulb that is perennial or biennial and can be used for both culinary and medicinal purposes.
How Can I Use Garlic?
Garlic can be used in the fresh, dried or powdered form. The fresh form is referred to as green garlic. Green garlic is milder than the dried garlic that is most common at the grocery store. Dried raw garlic is a pungent addition to many bases of soups, stews, curries and sauces. Powdered garlic can be used in place of dried garlic in a pinch or when a smooth or powdered texture is necessary, but it lacks the depth of fresh garlic. Garlic is used in nearly all cuisines and across many savory preparations.
What is the History of Garlic?
Garlic is a native to central Asia. It is one of the first cultivated herbs and was mainly used for medicinal purposes. Ancient Egyptians ate significant amounts of garlic while also using garlic as currency and offerings. Over the years, many cultures have also used garlic for magical purposes, such as warding off vampires and protecting pregnant women.