On any given day, I get several questions on the care and feeding of garlic. Most consumers know the basics of garlic “how to” but if you’re not quite sure or you’re a novice in the ways of garlic (yes, there are a few of you out there…) here are the answers to some of our most frequent queries.
•WHAT IS GARLIC? Garlic has been called many things throughout the ages, e.g. the “stinking rose”, the “king of seasonings”, but it is sometimes put in the spice or herb category. The dictionary defines spice as a pungently aromatic vegetable substance that adds zest, flavor and interest to food. Sounds right so far… An herb is defined as a soft-stemmed plant that usually withers and dies each year, an often-pleasant smelling (we think so!) plant used in medicine or cooking. Again, that sounds right… Well, both definitions work for me, but garlic is above all a vegetable. After much thought, however, I think I’ve come up with the best description of all: garlic is in a class by itself!
•HOW DO I STORE FRESH GARLIC BULBS? Keep fresh bulbs in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place. Garlic needs air circulation so store it in an open container, basket, net bag or open cardboard box. A small wicker basket is ideal for storing garlic conveniently on a kitchen countertop as long as it’s not near heat or moisture (like the oven or sink) or in the sun. Refrigeration is also an option but store garlic in an open container, keep it dry and do not store in a plastic bag. Garlicia’s option: don’t store it, use it!
•HOW SHOULD PEELED GARLIC BE STORED? Peeled garlic must be constantly refrigerated at cold temps – 34º to 38º – for best storage. Under ideal conditions (cold temps and no break in the cold chain), it can stay fresh for several weeks (more or less), but look for the “best by” date on the bag when purchasing. As long as peeled cloves are not moldy, “slick”, mushy or overly fragrant, they’re good to use even past the expiration date.
•CAN I FREEZE PEELED GARLIC? You can freeze peeled garlic but it changes the consistency. Frozen garlic can turn mushy when thawed, but the good news is that most of the flavor remains. It’s best used in sauces or dishes that don’t need chunks or pieces of garlic. Store in the Christopher Ranch bag or any airtight plastic or vacuum-sealed bag (get all the air out first) and freeze for 3 to 6 months. It may be necessary to double bag it so the aroma does not “travel”.
That’s our garlic primer for the day, my friends, and if you know someone who’s garlic-challenged, please pass on the info. Knowledge, like garlic, should be shared!