• Jere Folgert

How to Cook with Garlic?

Updated: Dec 13, 2019

The humble garlic has to be the most versatile and important vegetable in the kitchen. Think of all the dishes that start with garlic: the stocks, the stews, and the sauces. How garlic is cooked greatly affects their natural flavors. The great paradox of garlic is that when garlic is cooked or baked, it loses much of its health benefits, though what is gained are rich, complex and magical flavours. When you hear the word garlic, do you think of garlic chocolate fudge, chocolate covered garlic, garlic ice cream, garlicky pineapple upside down cake? Maybe not?

Garlic Chocolate Fudge

Some people eat their garlic raw. And although there isn’t a lot of scientific evidence to back it up, it seems likely that people who eat raw garlic are healthy! Raw garlic is powerfully hot to the point of burning your tongue. Milder members of the garlic family are perfectly fine to eat uncooked, (hardneck garlic such as Chesnok Red, German Extra Hardy and Georgian Crystal). Properly handled, garlic gives us a nutritional punch and adds wonderful flavour to many recipes.  Garlic is in the same family as onions, chives, shallots and leeks, though it offers a unique flavor.

Garlic is a powerhouse ingredient in the kitchen. Cooked garlic loses its zing so that you can taste the actual flavour. The advantage of carefully cooking a garlic clove - cooking brings out its natural sugars and makes them almost universally popular around the world. Don’t kill the health properties of garlic by overheating. When using garlic in cooking, try to retain as many of its health properties as possible, otherwise, you get the aroma and flavour without the desirable health benefits. Heat destroys the beneficial enzymes and reduces garlic's medicinal magic. These methods will give you garlic - that perfectly match for your dish.

Basic Guidelines for Using Garlic in the Kitchen.

1. Use Fresh, Raw Garlic Whenever Possible. Avoid garlic powders! Dried, powdered or stale imported garlic has lost much of its health properties and flavour. Freshly harvested garlic has the sweetest flavour and the least amount of allicin. As garlic cures, its flavour becomes stronger in storage and even bitter when the cloves start to sprout. Handing raw garlic can leave a lasting "garlickly" smell on your fingers. Eating raw garlic causes bad breath more so than cooked or partly cooked garlic due to the allicin. If you are using raw garlic in dishes such as pesto or guacamole, salsa, bruschetta and dips, serve garlic dishes with sprigs of fresh parsley, lemon slices or other mints so guests can refresh their palate and reduce garlic odour.

Fresh Hardneck Garlic

2. Add Garlic Just Before Turning Off the Heat to Avoid Overcooking it. Consider the 7-Minute Rule. Before you begin cooking your favorite dish, prepare your garlic first by crushing, mincing, chopping, or shredding it, and then, set it aside while you prepare the other ingredients. Breaking the garlic cells kickstarts a unique chemical reaction. Allicin is made when two substances present in garlic, alliin and allinase, interact - a chemical reaction that only occurs when the cells of the clove are broken down, through cutting, crushing, or slicing. It takes about 7 minutes for the process to occur. To retain as much of the allicin as possible, add the garlic to your dish about 7 minutes before you turn off the heat. Cook the garlic at temperatures below 140 deg. F. and keep in mind that garlic cooks well with butter or olive oil. Don’t overheat either of these or you’ll burn not only the garlic but the oil as well.

Add Garlic 7 Minutes Before Turning Off the Heat

3. Hardneck Garlic is Best. If you want more flavour and nutritional value be sure to purchase hardneck garlic. We buy our garlic from the GroEat Garlic Farm in Bozeman, Montana. Variety is the spice of life. Know the different types of garlic and use each to its best advantage. The plump bulbs of hardneck porcelain garlic are best for roasting or barbequing. Try Music, Rosewood, or Georgian Crystal. Gourmet chefs will choose one of the Rocamboles or Purple Stripes for the best flavours. Avoid softneck garlic unless you are searching for a diluted, milder flavour. Another advantage of hardneck garlic is that they produce delicious, cute, "pig tail" garlic scapes. Scapes are a seasonal delicacy, harvested from hardneck garlic types a month or so before the main garlic harvest. Scapes contain the same health properties and garlic oil as bulbs and can be used in place of garlic in most of your favourite recipes.

4. Use Garlic in Virtually Every Meal. Garlic can be integrated into virtually any meal. Search for recipes that incorporate garlic for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks. Don’t forget those delicious garlic desserts like garlic chocolate fudge, chocolate covered garlic, garlic ice cream, or garlicky pineapple upside down cake. Gently-cooked garlic enhances the taste of all meats, beef, pork, chicken, turkey, and it morphs the flavor of fish or seafood from ordinary to outstanding. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your favourite recipes. Adding garlic usually makes them better. White wine or Red Wine with garlic? Yes! Garlic in wine? Make your own by slicing a few cloves of garlic and letting them age for a few weeks in your favourite bottle of merlot or pinot red wine. Remove garlic and enjoy the wine. Did your garlic cloves suddenly turn a blue-green colour? This colour change is harmless, except to the appearance of your dish. When garlic is minced in its raw form and comes into contact with an acid (lemon juice, vinegar), the acid begins to break down the garlic, changing its composition. This alteration creates a reaction with garlic’s amino acids and a blue-green colour results. There are basically twelve (12) ways you can use garlic in the kitchen:

  • 1. Roasted

  • 2. Burned

  • 3. Sautéd

  • 4. Fried

  • 5. Blanched

  • 6. Caramelized

  • 7. Sweating

  • 8. Deep Fried

  • 9. Frozen

  • 10. Grilled

  • 11. Pickled

  • 12. Raw

Garlic Cooking: Caution must be taken when cooking garlic so that it is not overcooked. Garlic burns easily and when it has been cooked too long or on too high of a temperature, it will turn bitter. Some of the common cooking methods are shown below.

Oven Roasting Garlic :

To roast garlic, you'll need a knife, baking dish and oven. Keep the garlic bulb whole. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut off approximately 1/4 inch of the tips of the garlic; keep the skin on the garlic bulb. Place the bulb on a piece of aluminum foil large enough to wrap the garlic. Then drizzle it with vegetable oil, canola oil, or olive oil. Wrap the bulb tightly in the aluminum foil and place in a baking dish. Place the baking dish in the preheated oven. Roast the garlic bulb for approximately an hour or until the cloves are tender when poked with a fork. Cut the top of the bulb to reveal the roasted garlic.

Sautéing Garlic:

Over medium heat, Sautéing should only take about 30 seconds. Sautéing is the most common method used for cooking garlic as it brings out the nutty and savory flavors. Garlic can be sautéed in oil or butter but be careful is using butter because is will burn much faster than oil. Select a pan or skillet with a heavy bottom that will provide for even heating. Heat the oil or butter over medium heat and then add the garlic.The garlic should be stirred often to prevent burning. If cooking with other ingredients that take longer to cook, such as onions, start cooking the other ingredients and allow them to start to cook before adding the garlic.

Sautéing Garlic Cloves (30 seconds)

Frying Garlic:

Use a heavy bottomed deep pan, such as a cast iron saucepan and add oil. Heat oil on the stove until it is very hot but not smoking and then add garlic cloves. Fry cloves only until they turn a medium brown and the remove from the heat.Watch very carefully as they begin to brown to avoid burning them. Burnt garlic will have a bitter taste.

Burnt Garlic:

Use a heavy bottomed deep pan, such as a cast iron saucepan and add oil. Heat oil on the stove until it is very hot not smoking and then add garlic cloves. Fry cloves only until they turn a dark brown and the remove from the heat. Watch very carefully and remove from heat as they just begin to burn. Burnt garlic will have a bitter taste.

Burnt Garlic

Blanch Garlic:

To blanch garlic, seperate the coves. Bring salted water to a rolling boil in a large vessel and carefully drop the cloves in the hot water. Continue to boil for 2-4 minutes or till al dente. Turn off heat and immediately remove the blanched garlic. Strain garlic and add it back to the pot and place them in cold water.

Caramelized Garlic:

To caramelize garlic, seperate the cloves from the bulb. Cut or dice garlic cloves into medium-size chunks. You’re going for slices that are ¼"–⅛" thick. Heat 2 Tbsp. butter in a large saucepan over medium until melted and sizzling. Caramelizing garlic, by slowly cooking them in a little butter until they are richly browned, is a wonderful way to pull flavor out of the simplest of ingredients. Instead of dumping in all of the sliced garlic at once, which would fill the pot and make it hard to stir, start by adding just a couple of small handfuls to the pot. Cook, stirring, until garlic are soft and starting to turn light brown, 1–2 minutes. For added sweetness, try adding brown sugar or honey.

Sweating Garlic:

To sweat garlic, seperate the cloves from the bulb. Add the garlic to the olive oil, stir them round so that the garlic are coated with oil, put the lid on and leave them for 5 minutes. Take the lid off, stir and put the lid back for another 5 minutes. Repeat this until the garlic cloves are soft but not browning. Sweating is done with lid on pan.

Deep Fry Garlic:

To deep fry garlic, begin by separating the cloves from the garlic bulbs. Use a dedicated deep-fry pot, or simply deep fry cloves in a deep, cast iron pan. Make sure the handles of the cooking vessel are facing inward to prevent a disaster in the kitchen. Add a high smoke point oil. Add enough oil so that the cloves (added later) will be covered. Use a kitchen thermometer held upright in the middle of the pan to check the oil temperature. The ideal temperature is 180 Centigrade or 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Or, use a cube of bread. Drop the cube into the oil and if it sizzles and turns brown in 20 seconds, your hot oil is ready to deep fry garlic. DO NOT USE FROZEN garlic cloves. Be sure to pat dry the cloves before placing them into the oil. Moisture on the outside of the cloves can cause dangerous oil splatter. Deep frying is a fast process. Plan to keep the cloves in the hot oil for only 2-4 minutes. Smaller cloves will cook faster than larger cloves. For consistent results, cook in small batches. Adding too many cloves at once will lower the temperature of the oil. Use a slotted deep fry spoon or long tongs to remove the cloves from the oil. Drain the cooked cloves on a kitchen paper towels to absorb the excess oils. Season with sea salt or your favorite spice. Serve immediately.

Deep Fried Garlic Coves

Freezing Garlic:

To freeze garlic, we have two options. Keeping the garlic bulb whole, or separating the cloves from the garlic bulb. Wrap whole, unpeeled bulbs in plastic freezer wrap or aluminum foil. If using individual cloves, wrap tightly in plastic freezer wrap or aluminum foil, or place in airtight. The ideal temperature of a freezer is -6 fahrenheit or -21 Celsius. The colder temp ensures that food freezes through, and prevents deterioration. How long does garlic last in the freezer? Frozen cooked garlic will stay at best quality for six to eight months. PRO TIP. For best results, use a chest freezer. Upright freezers typically have a defrost option which will cause frozen foods to dry out. The temperature in a chest freezer stays consistent because it doesn't have a self-defrost system.

Frozen Garlic (Chest Freezer)

Grilled Garlic:

Cooking Garlic on the Grill brings out charred, sweet flavors and gives them a tender, supple texture. The quipment needed includes a knife, skewers thongs and a grill. Seperate the cloves from the garlic bulb. If you want a butterly flavor in your final product, keep the cloves whole. Otherwise cut them in half. Cutting the clove will "damage" some of the cells, and kickstarts a unique chemical reaction. Allicin is made when two substances present in garlic, alliin and allinase, interact - a chemical reaction that only occurs when the cells of the clove are broken down, through cutting, crushing, or slicing. It takes about 7 minutes for the process to occur. Skewer the garlic cloves and coat on both sides with oil. Place the skewer(s) on the grill and turn every three to five minutes. Cook until the cloves are tender, crisp and lightly charred.

Pickled Garlic:

To pickle garlic, begin by separating the cloves from the garlic bulbs. What makes a garlic pickle? On a most general level, garlic is soaked in solutions that help prevent spoilage. Here, garlic cloves are pickles preserved in vinegar, a strong acid in which few bacteria can survive. The equipment needed for this task includes garlic cloves, vinegar, large bowl, large pan, mason jars and lids and a stove top. Step 1: Put the peeled garlic cloves in a large bowl and pour boiling water over them. Step 2. Leave the cloves in the bowl until they cool. Step 3. Sprinkle salt over the cloves and stir and leave over night. Step 4. Rinse and dry. Step 5. Gently heat vinegar in a large pan. Step 6. Pack the garlic cloves into a sanitized mason jar and pour the hot vinegar solution over them. Seal with a sterilized lid. Step 7. Leave for a month. Step 8. Eat.

Jere Folgert is the owner of GroEat Garlic Farm in Bozeman, Montana. GroEat Farm is a small, sustainable family farm located in the beautiful Hyalite Foothills, in the shadows of the Gallatin Mountain Range.  The hardneck varieties that they grow on their farm flourish, due to the combination of the cold winters, temperate summers, moist spring, and the dynamic alluvial soils, washed down from the Gallatin Range.

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