More about Garlic
Garlic (Allium sativum) is in the same order, family and genus as onion. A small, hardy, bulbous perennial plant, it has been used throughout history for both culinary and medicinal purposes.
Garlic's pungent and spicy flavor mellows and sweetens considerably when cooked. It is almost odorless until it is bruised or cut, at which time an enzymatic reaction occurs that produces allyl disulfide - the chemical that imparts garlic characteristic aroma and flavor. Like onion, garlic is not usually eaten on its own, but is typically an ingredient used to season meats, poultry, seafood and vegetable dishes. Garlic is popular in most cultures and is widely used in Indian, Oriental, Mediterranean, Caribbean and Latin American cuisines.
There are dozens of different varieties of garlic, all of which fall into two basic categories: hard-neck and soft-neck. Hard-neck garlic (Allium sativum, variety ophioscorodon) has a few large cloves arranged around a firm central stalk. The soft-neck variety (Allium sativum, variety sativum) has rings of cloves with the smaller cloves in the center, and no central stalk.
While in the United States, the soft neck variety is typically sold in supermarkets; most connoisseurs prefer the flavor of the hard-neck variety. Hard-neck garlic is described as having a richer, fuller, more complex flavor than the soft-neck variety. It is also lower in allicin, the compound that makes garlic taste hot.
Garlic's health benefits and medicinal properties have been known for at least two thousand years. The ancient Romans believed garlic had magical properties and sailors carried cloves of garlic with them to prevent shipwrecks. Medieval physicians used garlic as a disinfectant and a cure for preventing everything from the common cold and flu to the plague. As an herbal medicine, garlic has been shown to be an effective treatment for acne and there is some evidence that it can assist in managing high cholesterol levels.
It is believed garlic originated in Western Asia. Today, it is cultivated in most parts of the world and grows wild in Egypt, Italy and most of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean basin. American’s love garlic and consume approximately three pounds per person annually. While this is three-times the level consumed just a decade ago, it is still a fraction of the twenty pounds per year consumed by Koreans.
In the United States, California produces approximately 80.00 percent of the garlic grown domestically. China is the largest grower producing over 75 percent the world's garlic