Origins & Information - Garlic

In honor of National Garlic Month (who the heck decides on these official days/months anyhow?), I have set out to read up a little bit more in-depth about this delightful vegetable. I certain use it in some shape or form in nearly everything I cook. There is just something quite fantastic about adding a bit of garlic powder to tenderize meat or stir-frying with minced garlic; I think that I just got really accustomed to eating tons of garlic in my food because my mom uses it in everything as well.

So fun thing to know about allium sativum is that it is related to onions, leeks, shallots, and chives. I suppose one could figure that out from its general shape but it is definitely somewhat still surprising. I mean, I never thought about garlic as growing similarly either so when I saw what natural garlic looked like, it was boggling. You can check out the picture below of what it looks like when it is taken out of the ground - looks like an onion doesn't it? The garlic that we typically consume is actually the bulb part of the plant. The sections into which a bulb is divided are called "cloves."

Garlic has both culinary and medicinal uses. Because of its antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties, it has been used frequently to help with various ailments including preventative measures against cancers and to help with fighting infections. Countries which have high consumption of garlic on an everyday basis also have lower rates of cancerous illnesses. Upon being crushed, garlic releases antibiotic and antifungal "allicin" which contributes to the "heat" of garlic in taste and smell (when raw) and also has been used for home remedies (I once ate a raw clove of garlic slowly...and get rid of a sore throat). In culinary uses, garlic is quite versatile. Crushed, minced, powdered, roasted, and as a paste are some ways we use the pungent, breath-staining bulb. Because of how easy it is to grow, garlic can be produced year-round and nearly everywhere.

Fun garlic facts:
  • An adhesive used in fixing porcelain and glass in China uses the juice from garlic bulbs
  • China produces 23 billion pounds of garlic annually and is thereby the largest producer
  • One clove of garlic = 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • Garlic stored in oil must be treated first lest it produce a deadly bacterium that can cause botulism
  • It is "known" that garlic wards off vampires
  • The human body does not build a resistance to garlic so its antibiotic traits are always effective
  • Garlic hung on doors or above shops is believed to keep evil away and is still practiced today
  • The garlic bulb is 84% water
  • In Hinduism, garlic is believed to increase one's sexual desires
  • Consumption of a lot of garlic is a common factor of causing halitosis
  • There is a fear of garlic and it is called alliumphobia