Garlic has to be one of the favorites of both the culinary and medicinal world. It has been in use for over 5000 years and it’s popularity is growing stronger than ever. I’m not sure if that is due in part of the Twilight series becoming so popular or the ever-increasing amount of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Given only one choice, many herbalist and chefs alike would pick garlic over any other herb for its versatile uses.
Garlic was use at the beginning of recorded history and was found in Egyptian pyramids and ancient Greek temples. There are Biblical references to garlic. Ancient medical texts from Egypt, Greece, Rome, China and India each prescribed medical applications for garlic. Garlic (Allium sativum) is: an antiseptic, antimicrobial, antibacterial, used in preventing and treating the common cold and flu, treat ear aches, supports cardiovascular health, helps reduce cholesterol, effective in treating MRSA, helps prevent scurvy, lowers blood pressure, treats sore throats, stimulates white blood cell production, and even used in treating livestock parasites.
(In the spirit of the season I thought it would be fun to share this tidbit of information)
Garlic used against vampires was big in southern Slavic countries and Romania as well. It was used to find vampires and to prevent vampires. A vampire in hiding could be spotted by not being willing to eat garlic. In the 1970s , a Romanian church distributed garlic during service, observing those who refused to eat it and figuring out if the person was a vampire. Crazy that this happened only 30 or so years ago right?
To prevent someone from being turned into a vampire it was common to stuff cloves of garlic in the corpse’s nose, mouth and ears to keep out all evil. It was also smeared over the eyes. Also, once they killed a vampire and cut off its head they would then fill its mouth with garlic to keep it from returning. It wasn’t just the Slavic areas that used garlic. In China and Malaysia it was rubbed on children’s foreheads to prevent vampire attack. In the Philippines it was rubbed under the armpits
I’m not sure if the use for garlic against vampires has increased or decreased over the years, I’ve never encountered one but maybe that’s because I eat garlic daily? I do know that many gardeners (and those who make their own cold and flu remedies) think about garlic more now than any other time of the year. Gardeners plant garlic in the fall for a late spring early summer harvest and herbalist begin making all of their garlic concoctions to prepare for the upcoming flu and cold season.
Here are a couple of ways you can include this amazing herb into your daily life
Softneck types grow best where winters are mild, though some tolerate cold to Zone 5. Most varieties do not produce scapes (edible curled flower stalks), but softnecks are great for braiding. Subtypes include Creole, artichoke and many Asian varieties.
Hardneck types adapt to cold winter climates, and all produce delicious curled scapes in early summer. Popular subtypes include porcelain, purple stripe and rocambole varieties.
Elephant garlic produces a large, mild-flavored bulb comprised of four to six big cloves. Closely related to leeks, elephant garlic is hardy to Zone 5 if given deep winter mulch.
Garlic takes roughly 9 months to mature. To plant, buy a seed bulb online or from a local nursery or farm. Garlic bought from a grocery store may have been treated with a growth inhibitor and will not reproduce a bulb. Garlic likes the full sun and loose, well-drained soil.
Separate all the cloves from the bulb with leaving the skin in tact.
Place cloves with the pointy part up and the root side (the bigger side) down.
Plant the individual cloves in a sunny location about 6″ deep and 4-6″ apart.
As the garlic grows cut the scapes that grow so the garlic can concentrate on producing a large bulb and not the flowers (softneck varieties tend not to flower).
You’re garlic is ready to harvest when the 2/3 of the stalk starts to turn brown. Dig from soil, set out to cure for a couple of weeks and enjoy!
Cooking with Garlic
Herb Roasted Garlic Ingredients
- Garlic roasting dish or any oven safe cookware with lid
- Fresh Garlic Bulbs *
- Fresh Herbs (if using dried use 1 tsp): 1 Tbs of Rosemary, Sage, and Thyme (you can use any combination of herbs you like)
- Olive Oil
- 1/2 tsp of fresh ground pepper
- Fresh Ground Sea Salt * optional
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
*I recommend using Elephant garlic but if you can’t find it use two or three regular bulbs. You can roast as many as your dish has room for, just increase the amount of herbs you use.
- Cut 1/4 – 1/2 of the top of the bulbs off exposing the tops of all the garlic cloves. Make sure you keep most of the skin in tact but remove any loose outer layers.
- Place bulbs in cooking dish cut side up and generously drizzle olive oil on top
- Sprinkle fresh herbs evenly over garlic, pepper and salt
- Cover dish and place in oven. Roast for 45-60 mins until garlic is nice and soft
- Serve with bread, crackers, deli meats, pesto, add a nice cheese and enjoy! You can freeze any leftover garlic paste to use in future cooking
This recipe is delicious and the preparation takes the heat out of the garlic that most people don’t like while giving it a sweet taste and leaving all of the beneficial properties in tact. It is super simple with only three ingredients. The only downside is that it takes six weeks to cure but if you start now, before you know it your pickled garlic will be ready to enjoy!
- Several Bulbs or Raw Garlic (enough to fill your jar when peeled)
- Glass jar with plastic lid
- Apple Cider Vinegar (I recommend Braggs)
- Raw Honey
There are no exact measurements to this recipe because it depends on the size of the jar that you use.
- Peel enough garlic to fill your glass jar (click here to watch a quit tip on how to peel garlic in 10 seconds) I used a pint mason jar
- Pour in enough Apple Cider Vinegar (I use Braggs) to cover the garlic completely
- Screw on plastic top
- Let sit in sunny location for three weeks
- After three weeks, drain liquid. Divide liquid in half. Keep half for later use (salads, cooking, etc)
- Add equal amounts of honey and vinegar to saucepan and cook on very low heat just until blended
- Pour honey/vinegar mixture back over garlic and replace plastic top
- Place in dark location for three more weeks.
- Six weeks are up?? Eat and enjoy!
- Garlic tip: Worried about garlic breath? Have everyone around you eat garlic too-problem solved!
If you are new to medicinal herbs and would like to learn more about them and garlic, I highly recommend Rosemary Gladstar’s book: Medicinal Herbs a Beginners Guide It is a must have!