Garlic is a member of the lily family which also includes leeks, onion, chives and shallots. There are many types if garlic grown in different parts of the world. Australian garlic is usually the Italian variety of garlic. Also commonly available in Australia are imported Chinese, Spanish and Mexican garlic. Elephant garlic is a large variety that is not actually garlic but a type if leek.
Selection and Storage
The shoots of the garlic bulb can be used and are known as green garlic or garlic shoots. Look for bulbs that are plump, heavy and firm and compact and where the clove is covered by skin and not exposed. Avoid damp or soft bulbs and bulbs that have begun to sprout. Keep garlic in a cool, dark place for up to a few months. Do not store uncooked garlic in the freezer or the refrigerator. Refrigeration encourages the growth of mould and freezing destroys the texture of garlic and results in an acrid flavour. Never store raw garlic in oil at room temperature; this can lead to botulism, a potentially lethal form of food poisoning.
Australian garlic is available from spring to the beginning of winter. Imported garlic is available all year round.
To peel garlic, place on a chopping board with the flat side of the knife resting on the clove. Tap the knife gently with a closed fist. The clove will separate easily from the skin. To crush garlic use a garlic crusher a mortar and pestle or crush with the flat end of a knife. If frying garlic be careful not to fry till brown and burnt as it will become bitter. Garlic can roasted whole baked in its oiled skin or in foil. Once roasted the garlic can be squeezed from the skin resulting in a creamy, rich flavoured puree. Garlic can be blanched and pureed or the cloves can be slowly cooked in olive oil. Once cooked these cloves can be added to olive oil to flavour the oil which can then be used with the garlic still in it for up to a week. Garlic is good with potatoes, rosemary, meats, fish, eggs and spinach.
Garlic contains more than 100 sulphur compounds, which may help promote healthy arteries and cholesterol levels.