Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Garlic

English: A basket of garlic (allium sativum) o...

In honor of National Garlic Day on April 9th, read more to find out everything you wanted to ever know about garlic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Garlic is one of those things that you either love or loathe.  Known for its pungent smell and varied uses, it has been a staple in the diet of large parts of the world for thousands of years.  It is a cousin to the onion, shallot, leek, and chive and grows in bulbs under the ground.  The stems, which grow aboveground, can reach two feet and are often used to braid the bulbs together for long term storage.

While Arizona does not have lots of farmers growing garlic, you can find some of our farmers’ market farmers growing garlic for the local market. The state hosts a few larger growers but often this crop is more the domain of California agriculture.

April 19th is National Garlic Day and to help you celebrate this culinary holiday, here is everything you always wanted to know about garlic.

Growing Garlic

  • There are two main subspecies of garlic, hard-necked and soft-necked.
  • It is easy to grow and is hardy enough to be grown in most climates, including the desert.
  • Garlic plants are very resilient, generally pest-free, and usually only susceptible to two diseases.  However, those diseases, nematodes and white rot, not only kill the plants but also infect the soil making it unsuitable for growing garlic in the future.
  • It can be grown in containers as long as it has good soil, enough sun, and enough depth to allow the bulb to grow.
  • The best type of garlic to grow depends on where you live.  Here in Arizona, soft-neck garlic may be the best choice but both types can be successful.
  • China is the leading producer of garlic in the world and produces more than 13 million tons a year.
  • In order to grow the biggest bulbs possible, the scapes, or flower stalks, should be removed so that the plant focuses on bulb production.
  • When harvested, the root cluster is usually discarded even if the bulb and stems are kept intact for long term storage.

Using Garlic

  • Garlic is generally available in a variety of forms and can be purchased fresh, dried, minced, fermented, and frozen.
  • While most references to garlic for cooking or medicinal purposes refer to the bulb and the cloves, the leaves and flowers are also edible.
  • Garlic has been an essential ingredient in food from around the world for thousands of years.
  • It is very common in cuisine native to the Middle East, Asia, the Mediterranean, and parts of South and Central America.
  • When used raw, the outer skin of the bulb and each clove is usually removed.
  • When roasted, the tip of the clove is cut off but the skin is left on during the roasting process.

Recipes with Garlic

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