There may well be over 450 identifiable strains of garlic.

The mature garlic plant produces a bulb, sometimes called a head of garlic, with numerous individual cloves inside the paper-like wrapper. An individual clove when planted will reproduce an entire bulb after about nine months. Some varieties of garlic also produce bulbils on top of their tall stalks (scapes). These are not true seeds, but can serve the same function. Bulbils are secondary cloves often produced in the flower cluster.

Technically, it is allium sativum ophioscorodon. Unlike the softneck garlic grown commercially, especially in Spain and China, this garlic subspecies produces a hard, woody flower stalk. The flower (topset or umbel) often contains bulbils. Many varieties develop partial or full coils in the stalks (scapes). We have to remove the scape in order to increase the size of the harvested bulbs. The results vary from variety to variety. Many of the hardnecks, have very rich and distinctive flavors, including the much prized Rocamboles. Porcelain hardnecks are increasingly being grown in Canada and now in Scotland they have the advantage of having large even sized cloves with a longer storage life but still retaining the superior taste. Many chefs praise the various hardneck varieties for their true garlic flavour. The cloves are also relatively easy to peel.

There are two basic types of garlic, hardneck and softneck. You can easily tell them apart in the store. If the stem at the top of the bulb is soft and papery, it is a softneck. Most of the commercially grown garlic, especially from China,Spain and France, is of the softneck variety. It is technically called allium sativum sativum. It does not produce a flowering stalk. Hardneck, as the name implies, has a hard stalk almost as thick as a pencil. The softnecks tend to have longer shelf lives than the hardnecks. They also tend to have more, but smaller, cloves per bulb, and are somewhat harder to peel than hardnecks.

Bulbils are small secondary cloves, though not true seeds, that are formed in the flower cluster (umbel) at the top of the scape. Bulbils range in size from that of rice grains to peas, depending upon the variety of garlic. They can be planted either in Autumn or spring and will produce small garlic plants the first year. Harvestable bulbs will result in years two or three.

Hardneck garlic developes an impressive flowering stalk, called a scape, which can grow from 24 to 48 inches in height. At the top is the “seed” pod, more properly called the umbel, which contains the flowers and bulbils. The umbel pod is covered in by the spathe, which often has a pronounced beak. Some garlic varieties give improved yields if the scape is cut before umbel development. The scapes on Rocamboles form beautiful circular curls. These are prized by floral arrangers in some countries, especially Japan.

Technically elephant garlic is more closely related to the leek. In the past it has also been called “giant garlic” and “giant leek.” The huge bulbs, with several cloves which can individually be the size of regular garlic bulbs, are famous for their rich but milder flavour. The largest bulbs can sometimes reach a weight of a half pound or more. They have tall scapes, which can reach five feet in height, with a beautiful purple flower on their top. This variety originates from central Europe.

When the shoots from a Autumn planted clove start growing again in the spring, they look somewhat like spring onions, but they taste just like garlic. If you harvest the plant, which at this stage has no really identifiable bulb, it makes a marvelous addition to many recipes. It can be used whenever the texture of spring onions and the taste of garlic are desired.

Just like bananas and bread, garlic should never be stored in the refrigerator! After harvest, keep bulbs in well aerated bags or baskets. The humidity should not be too high or germination will start. Relative humidities in the 30-50% range are best.Temperatures a little below 15 degrees are ideal. In the kitchen, keep the bulbs at room temperature in a well ventilated container. We can supply garlic keepers to suit our garlic. After harvest, bulbs will keep for several months, depending on the variety. If cloves begin to shrivel inside the wrapper, or if humidity causes sprouting, this bulb is way past its prime.

Horticulturists argue a lot about this one. But one of the better theories is that wild garlic was first domesticated in the Kirgiz desert of southern Siberia. It certainly grows there. People tend to think of garlic as a warm weather plant. In fact many varieties don’t do well unless they experience cold winter weather (like tulips and daffodils). Many varieties produce hotter bulbs after colder winters. So Siberians could grow garlic and during the last century they were allowed to pay their taxes with garlic.

In large quantities. The builders of the pyramids were often paid in fresh garlic, in part to maintain their strength and stamina. Garlic was found in King Tutankhamen’s tomb. Egyptian men were reputed to chew on a clove after a night of dalliance lest their wives get a whiff of their rival’s perfume. Egyptian medical manuals from 1500 BC list almost two dozen treatments using garlic.

There is evidence that garlic was placed in ancient Egyptian tombs as early as 5000 years ago. There are numerous references to garlic in Chinese literature as far back as 2000 BC. Chinese sacrificial lambs were spiced with garlic to make them more appealing to the gods. You can find garlic praised in ancient Sanskrit writings. By 1500 BC, garlic was old hat, having spread to virtually every civilization in Europe, Asia and North Africa.

Chefs recommend that you dice garlic finely with a sharp knife. It is not necessary to crush garlic to release the flavour. Sauté garlic at a low temperature so it does not burn and takes on an acrid, unpleasant taste. The garlic does not need to brown, but should remain translucent in the pan. The garlic will also continue to cook slowly after the other ingredients are added. Some cooks also rub a sliced clove all around a warming pan to add the essential flavor, or rub the sides of the salad bowl.

Roasted garlic cloves on toast or French bread with cheese such as a brie or a camembert, and perhaps some sliced almonds or capers, are one of life’s great pleasures. While garlic roasters can be purchased in cooking shops, aluminum foil can do the job nicely. Just trim the upper quarter inch or so off the bulb, exposing the cloves. Drizzle with some olive oil and, if desired, some salt and pepper. Especially for elephant/buffalo garlic, a little cooking sherry mellows the taste. Wrap the bulbs in foil and slow cook them in a 170 degrees C or gas mark 3 oven for about an hour and a half. The treat is ready when you can easily pop the clove out of its wrapper and spread it on the bread like butter. Enjoy.

Fresh garlic is generally odour-free. Only when cut or crushed do chemical reactions take place which produce the glorious scent. The garlic odour results primarily from a chemical called diallyl disulphide, which is a breakdown product from allicin.

Chewing on several sprigs of raw parsley can significantly cut back on garlic breath. Of course, if everyone else has had garlic, problem solved. Besides, it’s now chic to reek. The French claim red wine can also eliminate garlic breath. We are not sure about that, but we keep experimenting anyway.

Its hard to cook with garlic without getting some on your hands. After exposure, scrub your hands with salt and lemon juice, using cold water. Then rinse off with soapy warm water.

Everyone wants to know what they are eating these days. Reading food nutritional labels has become a national fad (well, maybe). But here is the official breakdown of a single garlic clove: 2-7 Calories, 0.2 grams protein, 0.1 grams fat, .05 grams fiber, 1.0 grams carbohydrate, 1.4 mg calcium, 10 mg phosphorous, .07 mg iron, 0.9 mg sodium, 26 mg potassium, .01 mg vitamin B1, .004 mg vitamin B2, .02 mg niacin, .75 mg vitamin C Each clove is also rich in many trace elements including zinc, manganese, germanium and especially selenium plus numerous sulfur compounds. These latter are where the real health benefits may lie.

Aside from being low in calories at well under 10 calories per clove, being low in fat and having no cholesterol, the garlic clove may be a veritable medicine cabinet of beneficial compounds. In 1858 none other than Louis Pasteur noted the antiseptic properties of garlic. In the 1940s, a Nobel Prize winning chemist by the name of Dr. Arthur Stoll discovered the compound allicin which he felt was key in garlic’s bacterial battling capabilities. As a clove is crushed or sliced the enzyme allinase triggers a series of complex chemical reactions. One of the resulting chemicals, allicin, is generally regarded as one of the key players in garlic medicine. Other substances such as adenosine and ajoene also may be of great significance. This is an area of very active research and new findings are being released almost daily. For garlic supplements,

There are numerous medical claims about the benefits of garlic. The claims range from highly controlled clinical studies all the way to borderline quackery. But there is little doubt that garlic has many therapeutic properties and nutritional science is gradually beginning to sort out the benefits. Among the ailments that garlic has been proposed to alleviate to one degree or another are: acne, asthma, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, dysentery, baldness, arthritis, cancer, earache, eczema, emphysema, digestive disorders, heavy metal poisoning, infections, intestinal worms, insomnia, colds, influenza, allergies, toothache, warts and vampires. Ancient Romans were reputed to use a paste of crushed garlic to try to cure hemorrhoids. During the Black Death in Europe some doctors stuffed garlic cloves into their face masks to help ward off the plague. Even during World War I, in the pre-antibiotic era, garlic juice was widely and effectively used as an antiseptic on the wounds of Allied soldiers.

A number of medical studies have pointed towards garlic being “the aspirin of the 90s”. It has been reputed to lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol as well as sporting anti-microbial and anti-carcinogenic properties. The director of the world famous cardiac health project, the Framingham Study, includes garlic in his listing of foods that may contribute to the prevention of heart disease.

Separating out the impact of a single food on the health of a population is a very difficult scientific task. High garlic consumption has been claimed to be one reason there is relatively less heart disease in China. But there are a multitude of other influences. There is one famous study, however, of an Indian religious cult, the Jains. The members of one branch ate copious quantities of onions and garlic (over a pound of onions plus 17 cloves) each week. As a group they enjoyed low levels of blood cholesterol and triglycerides. A more orthodox branch of Jains, who never ate onions or garlic, had significantly higher cholesterol and triglycerides. This may not be news. According to Jean Carper, the popular nutrition writer, Indian doctors prescribed garlic as a heart disease preventative almost 2000 years ago.

If garlic had been created in the laboratory instead of by nature, it would probably be a high price prescription drug. (Nutrition Reporter, 2005)

“Garlic is one of the richest sources of organic selenium and germanium. Together, garlic’s disclosed and yet undiscovered nutrients combine to make it one of the best nutritional spices in the world.” German Journal of Oncology, April 1989

Garlic has been used for millennia to treat ear infections, cholera and typhus. It also helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure, improves circulation and lowers blood sugar levels. It is one of the most effect antibiotic plants available, acting on bacteria, viruses and parasites, and was used during both world wars to disinfect wounds.

From Curing a cold to easing asthma, garlic is proving to be a drug-free route to health – Jane Clarke – The Times

UNUSUAL GARLIC FACTS

During the dark ages, people trusted Garlic to ward off the plague and wore garlands of garlic for protection

Roman soldiers on long marches ate daily to keep them healthy

The Soviet Army relied on garlic juice to prevent wounds turning septic during World Wars 1 & 2, when it earned the nickname Russian Penicillin
Eleanor Roosevelt swallowed three chocolate covered garlic pills each morning to improve her memory.

In the 1950s while working as a missionary in Africa, Dr Albert Schweitzer used it to treat cholera, typhus and amoebic dysentery.

You should plant garlic near roses to enhance their scent

Plant garlic near fruit trees to keep greenfly away

Garlic was entombed with King Tut

The longest string of garlic in the world was 123 feet long with 1600 garlic bulbs

Garlic Health Benefits

Laboratory tests by the American Heart Association showed that garlic dramatically reduced the build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries.

Numerous studies in the Europe and US have shown that garlic reduces harmful cholesterol in the blood. In fact a study in New Orleans found that garlic takers benefited from an 11% decrease in the harmful cholesterol after a 12 week period.

Studies also suggest that garlic helps to protect against the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, the leading cause of stomach ulcers; that is has a strong repelling action on the superbug MRSA

Garlic Central say that Studies have known that garlic can have a powerful antioxidant effect. Antioxidants help to protect the body against damaging “free radicals”.

“On his website, Dr Joe Mercola cites a study in which 146 people were given either garlic supplements or a placebo. Those who took the garlic were 2/3 less likely to come down with a cold. Researchers state that 2 cloves of garlic per day are good for the immune system” (Fight the flu with the natural immunity boosters by Rachel Stockton)

YOU are what you eat – April 06 – Garlic with its strong odour, may seem the least romantic of ingredients but one of its many reputed benefits includes an ability to increase the circulation and prevent hardening of the arteries, which can be a frequent cause of impotence in men.

Several population studies conducted in China centered on garlic consumption and cancer risk. In one study, investigators found that frequent consumption of garlic and various types of onions and chives was associated with reduced risk of esophageal and stomach cancers, with greater risk reductions seen for higher levels of consumption. Similarly, in another study, the consumption of allium vegetables, especially garlic and onions, was linked to a reduced risk of stomach cancer. In a third study, greater intake of allium vegetables (more than 10 g per day vs. less than 2.2 g per day), particularly garlic and scallions, was associated with an approximately 50 percent reduction in prostate cancer risk.

Evidence also suggests that increased garlic consumption may reduce pancreatic cancer risk.

A study conducted in the San Francisco Bay area found that pancreatic cancer risk was 54 percent lower in people who ate larger amounts of garlic compared with those who ate lower amounts.

In addition, a study in France found that increased garlic consumption was associated with a statistically significant reduction in breast cancer risk. After considering total calorie intake and other established risk factors, breast cancer risk was reduced in those consuming greater amounts of fiber, garlic, and onions.

How Much Garlic to Take

1.The National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, does not recommend any dietary supplement for the prevention of cancer, but recognizes garlic as one of several vegetables with potential anticancer properties. Because Furthermore, the active compounds present in garlic may lose their effectiveness with time, handling, and processing.

2. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines for general health promotion for adults is a daily dose of 2 to 5 g of fresh garlic (approximately one clove), 0.4 to 1.2 g of dried garlic powder, 2 to 5 mg of garlic oil, 300 to 1,000 mg of garlic extract, or other formulations that are equal to 2 to 5 mg of allicin.

Jack Challem of The Nutrition Reporter notes that raw crushed garlic can combat Candida infections and Athletes Foot. In one study, an aged garlic extract was injected into mice with Candida infections. After a day, the Candida colonies numbered 400 compared with 3500 among the mice only given a salt-water solution. After two days the garlic treated mice were free of Candida.

Thea Jordan from The Daily Telegraph noted that gynaecologists at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital have found that mothers-to-be who eat garlic boost the birth weight of small babies. They also discovered that it cut the risk of pre-eclampsia.

According to research the medicinal properties and benefits of garlic are strongest when it is raw and crushed or very finely chopped.

Cooked prepared garlic is less powerful but still reputedly of benefit to the cardiovascular system

Ideas for Taking Garlic

According to the Garlic Information Centre ‘one of the most effective ways to get rid of a sore throat is to chew a fresh clove’

According to Jane Clarke, Times Newspapers, the following are some ideas using garlic as a drug –free solution:

Sore Throats, colds and coughs – crush 5/6 cloves, add 6 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and stir, Refrigerate for 24 hours, then warm in the microwave and add a tablespoon of honey and 4 teaspoons of lemon juice. Leave to cool and let 2 teaspoons trickle down your throat.

Unsettled Stomach with diarrhoea: crush 3 cloves, add 1 dessertspoon of olive oil, stir in 3 tablespoons of warmed milk and sweeten.

Mouth Ulcers: dip a freshly peeled garlic clove into natural yoghurt and apply. It will sting but only for a few seconds.

Cold Sores: a tiny drop of garlic juice squeezed on to a cold sore can help to get rid of it

Insect Stings and bites: rub a cut clove on the bite or sting to zap the heat