2010-08-26 / News

Garlic breath may be good for you

The Island Garden
By Roger Marshall

In another few weeks, it will be time to plant garlic, so you might want to order a pound or two now.

To plant garlic, simply divide a head of garlic into cloves and push a clove into the ground until its tip is just beneath the surface. Space the cloves about six inches apart and forget it until spring. You might want to mulch with a two- to three-inch layer of leaves after the green sprout comes up, but for now, it’s basically plant it and forget it.

When planting garlic bulbs, use the largest ones available. Growers say that you get the largest heads of garlic from the largest cloves, so you might want to use the smallest cloves for cooking.

Garlic is a member of the onion (alium) family, which includes onions, chives, ornamental aliums, green, red, yellow and white onions, and leeks.

There are many ways to use garlic. In the kitchen, rub a wooden bowl with a split clove of garlic to add flavor before putting salad in the bowl. Crush a clove with the flat of a knife to make it easier to peel.

Garlic can be dried and made into a powder, it can be peeled and frozen, used raw or cooked. In short, you can do a lot with it and use it in a lot of foods.

On the menu, garlic enhances most flavors and can be used in many dishes. Sauté chopped garlic in olive oil and stir in cooked pasta and a liberal handful of chopped parsley for a quick and easy light dinner.

You can also sauté shrimp in olive oil and add it to the garlic parsley mix for an even better taste treat. Roast an entire head of garlic in the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour until it is soft. When it comes out of the oven, let it cool and squeeze the softened garlic onto toasted bread or crackers as an appetizer.

It is said that garlic is essential for good health. I just read this morning that garlic – along with other vegetables – can help to prevent Type 2 Diabetes.

It has 17 amino acids, and more than 30 sulphur compounds together with traces of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium and zinc. It also has vitamins A, B1, B2 and C.

The first uses of garlic were recorded as long ago as Babylonian times and in China, some 2000 years B.C. Garlic was also found in the great pyramid at Giza. There, a tablet was found that recorded how much garlic the pyramid builders ate and garlic cloves were found in King Tut’s tomb.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, garlic was also said to cure gout, toothache, hangovers and the bite of a mad dog! It is well known today that garlic improves blood circulation and stimulates the mind.

Garlic is also well known in folklore. It’s good protection against werewolves and vampires. I’ve never seen any werewolves or vampires around my yard, so I guess it works.

Garlic is said to drive evil spirits out of the body, and is also said to be an aphrodisiac used long before Viagra became commonplace. The Romans were said to have made up a concoction of coriander, garlic and wine as a strong aphrodisiac. The wine was probably the most effective part, although garlic breath may have been a deterrent to getting too cozy! Having said that, the chemicals in parsley are said to be a cure for garlic breath and may be the reason why coriander – a member of the parsley family – was mixed with the other ingredients.

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