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Culinary Methods

  • The sulfur compound allicin is responsible for much of the flavor and therapeutic benefits associated with garlic.
  • Allicin is not present in whole garlic heads or cloves. Allicin is created by chewing, cutting, chopping, or crushing garlic, allowing the enzyme alliinase to come into contact with the sulfur compound alliin, creating allicin. This interaction initiates a cascade of transformations that result in the creation of many volatile sulfur compounds that contribute to garlic’s complex taste and therapeutic effects.
  • Many people eat raw garlic only for health purposes, but it is also an excellent match for some culinary preparations.     
  • Heat destroys allicin, but chopping or crushing garlic prior to heating generates numerous volatile sulfur compounds and the rich, complex flavors associated with garlic.
  • If garlic is cooked whole, no allicin and very few flavor compounds are produced. The flavor is not only milder, but simpler, and very much different than if the garlic had been chopped or crushed prior to cooking.
  • Roasted garlic is essentially cooked whole, without chopping or crushing. It has a mild, sweet, caramelized taste that has broad appeal, but without the interaction of the enzyme alliinase with alliin, the broad range of aromatic flavor compounds is not produced.
  • Chopping garlic and sautéing it in oil until it begins to turn a straw to light tan color produces rich, complex, nutty flavors. Lightly salting helps enhance the character. This method is simple and easy. It brings out the best flavors from even the blandest cultivars and helps even the most sulfurous and aggressive cultivars taste rounded and nutty. This preparation is excellent on its own with crusty bread, or it can readily be incorporated into other dishes, or serve as a step in the preparation of vegetables or sauces.
  • Sautéed garlic should not simply steam or the flavors will be more sulfurous without the rich, nutty character.
  • Do not cook garlic to a dark brown color, or worse yet, burn it, or the garlic will taste acrid and unpleasant.
  • Throughout the world, in numerous cuisines, whether for sauces, stews, curries, or stir-fries, chopping or crushing garlic and then cooking it in oil is a fundamental culinary building block. Chopping or crushing garlic generates the volatile aromatic flavor elements, and cooking it in oil enhances its character and helps distribute its flavors for the culinary preparation.