This one's for all the garlic lovers out there. As medicine and food, garlic goes way back in time. A lot of cuisines worldwide use garlic as its flavouring agent. The taste of garlic ranges from mild and sweet to strong and pungent, depending on the type of garlic and where it has been cultivated. When it comes to varieties, the list is quite vast. There are white, pink and purple varieties that come as hardneck (with a long thin stem) or softneck (no stem), and hardneck is the most pungent one. All garlic, however, mellows when cooked, turning mild to slightly sweet. The author of the book 'Healing Spices', Dr. Bharat B. Aggarwal, researcher at Tang Center for Herbal Medicine Research at the University of Chicago, lists down some easy ways to buy and store garlic.
1. For the best flavours, buy fresh bulbs. They vary in size, containing anywhere from a few cloves to two dozen. When it comes to taste, however, size doesn't matter - taste is determined by the freshness of the bulb. For maximum freshness, look for bulbs that are plump, dry and don't have broken skin.
2. You can also purchase fresh garlic in a jar preserved in liquid, crushed, sliced, minced, chopped or in a tube. Dried garlic comes powdered, granulated, flaked, ground, minced or chopped.
3. Store fresh garlic uncovered in a cool place away from heat and direct sunlight. It shouldn't be refrigerated; it will sprout. You can also freeze fresh garlic, although that alters the taste and texture somewhat.
4. Before they sprout, garlic cloves start to turn green. Always cut away any green (or any discoloration) on the cloves. For the best flavour, use only white flesh.
5. Store dried garlic, garlic powder and garlic salt in an airtight container in a dark and cool place. Dried garlic should keep for about a year and garlic salt will keep for several years.
So the next time you go for grocery shopping, keep the above mentioned things in mind.