Garlic is species in the onion genus. Its close relatives include onion, shallot, leek and chive. Garlic is native to Central Asia. It has been a staple in in Mediterranean region, as well as most commonly used as seasoning in Asia, Africa and Europe. It is used for both culinary and medicinal purposes.
It is a bulbous plant. It has a flower that has both male, pollen producing and female, ovule producing parts. Garlic grows wild in Central and South Western Asia. Garlic is easy to grow and can be grown year round in mild climates. Garlic in cultivation is propagated asexually (union of male and female parts of the plant is not required), by individual cloves in the ground. Cloves are planted in autumn, about 6 weeks before soil freezes and harvested in late spring. Garlic plants repel rabbits and moles.
Though garlic is grown globally, but China is largest producer of garlic, approximately 10.5 million tonnes (23 billion pounds) grown annually that makes 77% of world’s output.
Garlic is widely used globally for its pungent flavor, as a seasoning or condiment. The plant bulb is the most common used part of the plant. Its pungent and spicy flavor sobers down and sweetens according to the dish prepared. The flavor varies in intensity and aroma with different cooking methods. Garlic is one of the main ingredient in most of the dishes of many regions like Eastern Asian, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Middle Est, North Africa, Southern Europe and parts of South and Central America. Once the Garlic softens, its juice can be extracted by squeezing the cloves.
Garlic is applied to different kinds of breads like Garlic Bread, Garlic Toast, Bruschettas and Crostini. Oils can be flavored with garlic cloves. These infused oils are mainly used to season vegetables, breads, pastas, meats and lentils. Yoghurt mixed with garlic and salt is a common sauce in Eastern Mediterranean Cuisines. In Indian Cuisine garlic is used as a spice in tempering of various curries, chutneys, vegetarian dishes and lentils. Garlic powder has a different taste from fresh garlic. It can be used as a substitute for fresh garlic. A pinch or 1/8th is equivalent to one clove of garlic. Garlic with Cinnamon is used as fish and meat preservative.
Garlic helps in regulating blood sugar levels. Garlic cloves are used as remedy foe infections, digestive disorders, fungal infections such as thresh.
Peeled cloves can be stored in wine or vinegar in refrigerator. Garlic will keep longer if cloves are attached that is a whole bulb. Garlic bulbs should be clean and white with dried neck and outer skin and quite firm under pressure. If they are soft or spongy they should be discarded immediately.
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