Now here’s a spice with a storied past. In one mythology, garlic and onion was said to have sprung from the Devil’s footprints as the great tempter left the Garden of Eden. In China garlic was a symbol of good fortune, capable of warding off the evil eye. Roman soldiers chewed garlic before going into battle, and garlic bulbs were found in the tomb of Tutankhamen. Garlic remains an essential ingredient in thousands of dishes around the world. We’re lucky to live in an area where so many different types are locally grown and sold at farmers’ markets and local stores and co-ops.
It seems everyone has an opinion on how to crush a garlic; here are three approaches:
- After trimming the root end, place the clove in a mortar and give it one blow with the pestle to loosen the skin. Discard the skin, then crush the flesh with a pinch of salt to retain juice that might otherwise be lost (it also help keep the garlic from flying out of the mortar).
- Place the unpeeled clove on a chopping board, cover with the flat blade of a knife and press hard. The skin can now be easily removed. The press again before finely chopping with a pinch of salt.
- If you use a garlic press, first cut off the root end then place the clove, cut end down in the press. Crush into a small bowl, or directly into the recipe as directed. It should be easy to remove the garlic skin from the press in one piece-making clean up easier.
Garlic products include granules, salt, coarse flakes, and minced. Store garlic bulbs in a cool dry place, away from strong lights. Making aromatic oils, vinegars and spice mixes with garlic is super easy, here are a few suggestions.
GARLIC AND SPICE AROMATIC OIL
Fill a clean bottle with EVO. For 2 ½ cups of oil, peel and halve a large garlic clove. Add clove to the oil wtih 3 whole red chilies, 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, 3 allspice berries, 6 black peppercorns, 4 juniper berries and 2 bay leaves. Cover tightly and leave in a cool dark place for 2 weeks. Sample and if it’s not strong enough for your liking, leave another week before using. Label clearly and store, it also makes a colourful and welcome gift.
Crush 3-4 cloves of garlic and pound them in a mortar then place in a stainless steel or glass mixing bowl. Meanwhile heat about 1 cup white wine or cider vinegar until just on the boil and pour it over the garlic. Leave to cool. Add a further 1 cup cold vinegar. Pour into a clean jar, cover tightly and leave for 2 weeks, or less if you don’t want a strongly favoured vinegar. Shake the jar regularly. Strain the vinegar into a clean bottle, adding 2 or 3 unpeeled garlic cloves to the vinegar for show. The liquid must completely fill the bottle. Remember to keep your cloves submerged. Cover tightly and label, then store in a cool, dark place.
BARBECUE SPICE MIX
Mix together: 2 tsp ground celery seeds; 1 tsp paprika; 1 tsp ground nutmeg; 1 tsp chili powder; 1 tsp garlic powder; 1 tsp onion salt; 2 tsp dried marjoram; 1 tsp salt; 1-2 tsp light brown sugar;
1 tsp ground black pepper. Makes about 4 tbsp, store the mixture in an opague jar in a cool place. HINT: Add this mix to a glass of red or white wine with a few slices of onion and 4 tbsp of garlic-flavoured oil for a quick marinade.
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