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  • Writer's pictureJere Folgert

Garlic is the Strongest-Flavored Edible Allium

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

Garlic is the strongest-flavored edible Allium. Surprisingly, the fresher the garlic, the milder the taste. In other words, garlic, fresh from the ground, often referred to as "green garlic" (this is garlic that has not been allowed to cure and dry), is milder as compared to garlic that has been allowed to cure for a month or so. Green Garlic is popular for making pesto, guacamole, and other dishes that use raw garlic.

Most of us consume garlic that has been cured and dried for a period longer than a month. When selecting garlic, inspect the individual cloves by gently pushing on them to determine if they are firm or soft. Good garlic should be firm and the cloves should not feel squishy or soft. Garlic is fairly fragile and should be handled with care. Dropping a garlic bulb certainly may result in one or more of the cloves getting damaged. Bruising will trigger the chemical reactions that release allicin.

Garlic, onions and leeks (including Elephant Garlic) have been popular foods across the globe for thousands of years. Garlic appears to be the strongest-flavored allium and quite possibly the food with the greatest medicinal potential. In Egypt and elsewhere in the Mediterranean basin, garlic was considered as a food for strengthening the body, ideal for workers, soldiers and the elite. The study of extensive archeological evidence uncovered in the Middle Eastern civilizations reveals ancient art appearing on clay tablets, papyrus scrolls, stone carvings and painted objects such as stone walls and mummy cases / coffins.

Alliums are mostly odorless until the plant cells are damaged or crushed. At the time of damage, the cells begin to generate a volatile, characteristic sulfur smell, that contains reactive sulfur-containing chemicals.

Epoxy glue can be used as an analogy to a damaged allium cell; Epoxy resins come in two parts: the resin and the hardener. When the two parts are mixed together, a chemical reaction occurs that causes heat production. This heat changes the epoxy from a liquid to a solid. Epoxy resin, like other resins, is mixed together in a specific ratio or amount of resin to hardener.

These stinky and strong tasting compounds are not directly involved in the normal growth of the plant. Instead these stinky secondary metabolites are used as a defense against predators, disease and parasites, and surprisingly, the stinky smell may attract pollinators. Researchers have observed the sweet aroma of some allium's flowers such as chives attract bees. Each Allium species contains different amounts of sulphur compounds.

Garlic is an important and widely cultivated crop, which is known for its culinary and medicinal use. Garlic has been cultivated vegetatively because of its sexual sterility. Vegetative propagation of garlic is achieved through division of the ground bulbs and/or aerial bulbs.

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