Garlic: A Kitchen Spice With a Lot of Health Benefits
Garlic is a wonderful way to flavor any kind of food. Crushed garlic is even great mixed in with cottage cheese. Garlic also has many health benefits to it as well.
Nearly 5000 years ago the Sumerians acknowledged garlic. Many writers have referred to it such as Virgil who praised garlic and Shakespeare and Horace who was revolted by the effect of garlic on the breath. In olden times garlic was thought to be food for workers and peasants. Those who worked on the pyramids and Greek and Roman soldiers and sailors were given rations of garlic daily. Because of its protective power garlic was also used in magic sort of like a talisman. It was hung around the necks of children and livestock to ward off evil spirits. Hanging a wreath of garlic outside the door of a dwelling or by a window was believed to frighten away witches and vampires.
Cloves of garlic have many different uses in the kitchen. The juice of garlic may be squeezed to enhance the flavor of salad dressings or in salad dressing you make yourself and a whole bulb added to stews make them rich with flavor. Garlic is also a powerful disinfectant and antiseptic. Garlic juice can be applied externally to wounds on sterilized lint or garlic can be pounded into a poultice for sores. When used internally it is valuable in preventing infections and the formation of harmful bacteria in the intestines and stomach. It also has been known to be used to prevent or treat colds, coughs, and bronchitis.
Garlic is rich in sulfur and therefore has a beneficial effect on the garden. The secretions and excretions that come from the roots of the garlic encourage other plants to grow especially roses. There are also wild species of garlic. One of the most recognizable is Ramsons (A. ursinum) which grows in masses in the damp woods of Britain and other places in Europe.
Elephant garlic resembles a huge bulb of garlic but is more similar to the leek. It has a mild flavor and aroma and one clove has the same potency as about 10 cloves of garlic.
Fresh garlic should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place. For quick use whole garlic cloves, or chopped or crushed garlic can be prepared and stored in jars in olive oil for up to 3 – 4 months.
Garlic is being studied for its medicinal and industrial properties:
Russian doctors – for its effects on cancer,
Japanese scientists – testing patients with lumbago and arthritis,
Indian doctors – to prevent the development of arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, and hypertension.
Industrially – when distilled with water garlic cloves, isolate an oil containing compounds necessary for the creation of olefin molecules used to manufacture extreme pressure lubricants, sealants in the glass insulation industry and binders in solid propellants for rockets.
Of course, the best way to enjoy garlic is chopped, minced, pressed fresh or cooked in many different types of food with its delicious aroma filling the kitchen. You’ll be healthier for it.