Origin: Central Asia
Garlic has been around for thousands of years and is still a common ingredient today. It was originally used for its medicinal purposes, as it was thought to lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol. But today, garlic can be seen in almost every cook’s kitchen.
Garlic is a part of the allium family (the same as leeks and onions), and it is considered a “superfood” for its health benefits. In terms of appearance, garlic looks like one large bulb on the outside but is filled with smaller individual, white cloves, each inclosed in a paper-like wrapping. Garlic is known for its pungent smell and bitter taste, but is very commonly used as a base seasoning for a wide range of dishes in many different cultures.
In grocery stores and corner markets, garlic can be found fresh, granulated, or dried and pulverized into a powder. There also are different variations of garlic. Green garlic (or spring garlic) is harvested at a younger age, so it is similar to a scallion and is less pungent in smell and taste. Another variation is elephant garlic, which has larger cloves, approximately only four or five per bulb. The third variation is black garlic which has been fermented and preserved. Like its name, black garlic’s cloves are black in color and much softer in texture. Black garlic is great in marinades and vinaigrettes.