Introduction: Basic Kitchen Skills - the Stinking Rose (aka Garlic)

About: Finally have enough of an internet connection to get back to! And the infinite number of emails that are clogging my in box ?. Guess living on a mountain top has some drawbacks- but who care…

First to let you know about the wonderful little clove that makes vampires and boyfriends run away!

I love garlic, I use it in almost every savory recipe that I prepare.  I had noticed that several of my "apprentice home chefs" really don't have a good idea about garlic.  They shun if for the breath it causes, and many of them avoid it all together.  I believe that the more you know about the garlic, the more apt you are to use this wonderfully edible bulb!

So hope you learn something about garlic in this "ible" and that you join me in consuming what is truly a medicinal food! 

Things you might want to know.....

*Garlic is available year around. but is freshest in in spring and summer. 

*Commercially available garlic comes in almost every possible form: whole cloves with the skin on (my preferred variety), whole whole peeled cloves, minced or diced in a jar, powder, granular and even a pill!

*Fresh garlic has the most medicinal qualities of all the varieties.  It also taste different than the dried forms.  You might actually want to use a powdered form in certain recipes just for the taste.

*Garlic has been heralded for its multitude of healing properties for over 5,000 years.  It has been used as a diaphoretic (make you sweat), diuretic (make you pee), choloagogue (liver cleanser), expectorant (clear mucous form the respiratory tract), stimulant (increasing bile motility), antibacterial (germ fighter), anti-fungal (works against fungi, such as athletes foot and others). alterative (restoring good health), anti-spasmodic (calming the stomach and intestines), vulnerary (such as garlic paste on wounds) vermifuge (to clear out intestinal worms) and even a type of penicillin!
Modern medicine mainly looks at garlics benefits to the heart and blood vessels.  It helps lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and increases blood flow through the body.
This is only the tip of a very large iceberg, and I include it because I truly believe that basic kitchen skills should include basic knowledge of ingredients.

Step 1: How Much Garlic Are You Going to Need to Prepare...

Now that you know you are going to be eating garlic (at least I am hoping you will be), you need to know how much you will need for whatever the recipe calls for.

1 Garlic bulb = 10 to 15 cloves (these can vary i size tremendously, which is why I don't like recipes that call for a certain number of cloves.  It is better to go by the amount which will be used.

1 small garlic clove = 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic = 1/8 teaspoon garlic = 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder = 1/4 teaspoon garlic juice = 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt. 

1 extra large garlic clove should yield about 1 Tablespoon mined garlic. 

Just a side note: unbroken garlic bulbs can be stored for up to 3 or 4 months when kept in a cool dry place.  A pantry is better for storing than a refrigerator.  Keep them away from the stove and the sink as heat and dampness are the enemy! 
A peeled clove can be kept in the refrigerator up to 10 days safely.  
If your cloves happen to sprout while in storage, consider yourself lucky! They are still edible, or they can be planted even.  Those mild flavored sprouts are also edible and great on salads!

Step 2: You Know How Much, So Let's "get Er Done"

Purchasing bul garlic bulbs is the most economical way to get your garlic.  Don't be afraid of how to prepare them.  I want to show you the simplest way to peel and mince garlic for your recipes so that you won't be spending money on overpriced jars full of prepared garlic product that might have been sitting on a store shelf so long that even a vampire would buy it! 

Grab your bulb and peel off the desired number of cloves.  They will break away freely leaving the skin (paper) intact on the remaining cloves to be returned to storage. 

Step 3: What Do You Mean "peel" a Garlic??

I have NEVER peeled a garlic, or used a garlic press.  if I can get away without those cluttering my kitchen I know other people can. 

Garlic are not really peeled, at least not the way I do it.  I suppose if you wanted to present a whole garlic you could put a tiny slice in the end of the garlic and the paper husk would just slide away.  I want to show you how to mince your garlic, or finely chop it.  

Using the flat side of a large kitchen knife, carefully hit the clove with the knife using the palm of your hand.  
Simple as that! 
This will partially crush the clove and break the paper skin loose so that the actual clove can be slid right out. 

Step 4:

Coarsely chop the garlic once the skin is removed.

Sprinkle  a small amount of coarse salt, such as kosher, and once again using the flat side of the knife, rub across the garlic using the salt to break it down into smaller peices.  If you account for the salt from your recipe, you will not risk making something too salty to eat.

You can continue to work the garlic until it is the desired size, even making it into a paste.  You might want to "rock" the sharp edge of your knife through the garlic if you see any pieces that are over sized and out of place. 

Now you are ready to go and make some wonderful garlicky dish that will be sure to please!