Garlic (Allium sativum) is a medicinal plant and a delicious, aromatic spice that is quite pungent when raw. Chlorophyll works well against the unpleasant smell of garlic.
Common garlic or cultivated garlic is characterized by its distinctive flavor and intense smell. Therefore, not everyone likes it the same. Especially in cultures in which garlic is used little to none in cooking, its smell or body odor of people who have eaten it can be unpleasant.
The taste of garlic is slightly sweet and ranges from pungent (smaller cloves) to mild and nutty (larger cloves). When garlic is cooked or roasted for a long time, it loses a large part of its pungency and smell.1 Fresh garlic tastes more intense than dried garlic, see the shopping section below.
The highly aromatic garlic cloves can be eaten raw or cooked and - depending on preference - whole, chopped or pressed. They go well with all spicy dishes and generally enhance the taste. Garlic tastes very good in salad dressings, hummus (hummous), curries, tomato dishes, spring soups, rice and pasta dishes and cooked cereals. It goes well with potatoes, avocado, olives, mushrooms and many vegetables. It also suits marinades wonderfully. Garlic goes well with the spicy herbs of Mediterranean cuisine (e.g. rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano, sage) as well as with ginger, pepper, chilli and various curry varieties. If you prefer a milder taste experience, you can rub the salad bowl with a clove of garlic or alternatively steam or cook only one clove when cooking vegetables.
You should watch out for cloves with a green sprout, also known as the germ which is particularly rich in sulphur compounds. The same applies to larger green shoots. They can taste bitter and are very spicy and pungent, but non-toxic. 2,3 If garlic is exposed to too much heat during frying it will develop a bitter taste.
Garlic is popular in many parts of the world and is an important ingredient in many traditional recipes. It adds flavor to seasoning sauces or dips such as aioli or tzatziki and it enhances typical antipasti (Italy), tapas (Spain) or mezze (meze) in the Middle East and the surrounding area. In many countries, it is also enjoyed pickled in brine or oil with some of its flavor absorbed by the liquid leaving milder-tasting garlic. Some kitchens also use the fresh leaves of the plant as a spice.4 In some Spanish and Asian dishes, garlic cloves are replaced by garlic sprouts or germs for a milder taste.
For this oriental specialty, soak 220 g raw chickpeas in fresh water for at least 12 hours (24 hours is better), pour and rinse. Then boil in plenty of water and drain. Bake eggplant in the oven at 180°C/356°F for 45 minutes. Bake an onion chopped into small pieces and eight whole cloves of garlic with the eggplant for the last 15 minutes. Once the eggplant has cooled down, remove the skin and dispose of it. Blend the pressed garlic cloves, chickpeas, onion pieces, 4 tbsp. sesame seeds, 2 tbsp. lemon juice and half a teaspoon chili powder to a creamy hummus and add water. You will find exact quantities in the recipe Aubergine hummus with sesame seeds, onions, and garlic.
Garlic is not suited for tea-making because alliin is not very water soluble. Instead, the alliin is converted into unpleasant smelling sulfur compounds.5
Garlic bulbs or tubers consist of the main bulb and 5-20 smaller, closely spaced secondary or brood bulbs, the cloves. The garlic cloves are curved and grow in a circle around the main bulb. The garlic onion itself is covered in a thin, white, purple or reddish coating. Garlic bulbs can be bought fresh or dried. A striking and distinctive feature of fresh garlic bulbs is the juicy, green stem. Choose fresh garlic that looks juicy and is free from yellow or dark spots.6
However, garlic bulbs with a dry shell are usually available in supermarkets and from major distributors such as Morrissons, Tesco, Asda, Co-Op (GB); Metro, Foodland, Freshco (CAN); Walmart, Whole Foods, Costco (USA), etc. It should be smooth, silk paper thin, white or pink and should have neither stains nor cracks. Make sure to buy organic garlic, which you will find mainly in health food stores, in organic shops or at the market. Organic cultivation promotes natural "growing" so crops are not as polluted as with conventional cultivation.
Garlic is preserved in brine or in oil in a glass, partly with herbs, paprika or chili. Granulated garlic is also usually available to buy at these same retailers.
At the delicatessen, you will sometimes find black garlic. This is fermented garlic, which instead of its strong taste only has a fine garlic note and is otherwise more reminiscent of dried plums, balsamic vinegar, and vanilla. Garlic sprouts or garlic germs are available in jars in the store or fresh in the Asian supermarket.
Wild garlic grows in areas where it was once naturalized as a cultivated plant, particularly when the climate is favorable and mainly where wine is grown. It is either a wild form of cultivated garlic (Allium sativum var. sativum) or serpent garlic (Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon)7; not to be confused with the vineyard leek or "wild garlic" (Allium vineale), whose above ground brood-onions serve on the Balkans as seasoning and taste like garlic.8,9
Bear's garlic (Allium ursinum) is also another type of garlic found in the wild; a plant species from the genus allium and sometimes called "wild garlic". It grows throughout Europe in humid alluvial forests, beech forests, deciduous forests, and mixed forests, but also on hedges. The harvest period is between March and May but the onions can be dug up in autumn and used also.10 You can find more information in the Wild Garlic article.
Although not related to garlic, there is a wild alternative Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) which has a fine garlic and cress taste and is a good, aromatic herb.10
Like onions, garlic should be stored away from light and in dry conditions. The outer shell must not be damp due to the risk of mold. Fresh garlic has a short shelf life and is best used immediately if it has been chopped. It can be stored in the refrigerator for a maximum of one to two days before it loses its taste.
If possible, fresh garlic can be tied to the stalk and hung in a cool, dry place. It is also possible to hang fresh garlic in braids in the sun or it can be sliced and dried with a drying appliance.6
The garlic bulb contains carbohydrates, especially fructans, and sulfurous compounds (the odorless alliin or cysteine sulphoxide and their precursors), for example, γ glutamylcysteine peptides, whose conversion to allyl thiosulfinates has antioxidant and antibacterial effects. In fresh garlic, the alliin content is between 0.5 and 1 % (or 5-14 mg/g).11 Alliin is a non-proteinogenic amino acid.
Why do we smell of garlic after eating it? Alliin lyase (or alliinase) is used to produce the odor-intensive active ingredient allicin and other secondary products.12 This happens when the plant tissue is damaged and is regarded as the antibiotic defense mechanism that protects the plant against parasites, microorganisms, and predators. Heating produces other sulfurous compounds such as diallyl disulfide, diallyl thiosulfonate, and ajoene. After consumption, allicin, together with the red blood pigment, converts to hydrogen sulfide and thus enters the lungs and skin, causing the characteristic garlic smell in humans.7,13,14 Not everyone smells like garlic after eating, at least not to the same extent.
At the end of this text, you will find the nutrition tables. Since one rarely eats so much garlic, the high proportion of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) of 1.2 mg/100 g (88% of the daily requirement) does not play such a large role. Rice bran (4 mg), wheat bran (1.3) and wheat germ (1.3), etc. are also good sources of vitamin B6. 100 g of garlic would cover 84% of the daily requirement for the trace element manganese with 1.7 mg, but only 10 g chickpeas cover the entire daily requirement.17
It is primarily the secondary plant substances that make up the high nutritional value of garlic. The optimum is not the maximum, even with regard to vitamins, because one can overuse them in a way that is harmful to health. We never refer to garlic as a superfood or a miracle food, because these are just general expressions from sellers that don't equate to much
How can you get rid of the smell of garlic? Milk (which neutralizes about half of the sulfur compounds in the breath15), fresh parsley, cloves, coffee beans, ginger or basil should help against garlic breath.7,16 The best way to rid the smell of garlic from your pores is with chlorophyll tablets.
The allicin in garlic has an antibiotic and antibacterial effect. For this reason, garlic can have a soothing effect on gastrointestinal disorders because it is helpful against fermentation processes in the intestines and their accompanying symptoms (flatulence, cramps, and pain). It is also considered to be a cholagogue. The tuber also has a vasodilating, relaxing effect and is intended to prevent thromboses.18 It has not been scientifically proven that garlic extract lowers blood pressure. Existing studies serve interests and are not really conclusive, writes the Cochrane Network, which is considered objective. However, it is suspected that garlic has an anticoagulant effect on blood clotting.
As a dietary supplement, garlic and the milder garlic sprouts are considered healthy. From the work of Prof. Dr. Sigrun Chrubasik-Hausmann, University Hospital Freiburg: The WHO recommends a daily dose of up to 5 g fresh garlic or up to 1.2 g garlic powder or other preparations with up to 12 mg alliin or up to 5 mg allicin per day. The work says a lot and lists a lot of sources, but seems to be promoting black garlic. Black garlic is the same as conventional garlic but has been fermented under controlled conditions (under lock and key with defined heat and humidity).
It's amazing how little it takes to sell a nutrient like FruArg (N-α- (1-deoxy-D-fructos-1-yl) -L-arginine) as a miracle cure. It is claimed that FruArg found in garlic can help protect brain cells as well as protect it against aging and disease. However, if you are looking for reliable evidence from PubMed, you will find it is thin on the ground. Studies on mice show that FruArg can cross the brain barrier (Johnson MC et al, 2016). Another study shows that FruArg can relieve oxidative stress and neuroinflammatory reactions caused by LPS in BV-2 microglial cells. (Song H et al, 2016). The former appears to be linked to an analysis from 2014 (Zhou H et al.) as shown by this statement: FruArg can attenuate neuroinflammatory responses and promote resilience in LPS-activated BV-2 cells by suppressing NO production and by regulating expression of multiple protein targets associated with oxidative stress.
Eating fresh garlic on an empty stomach can cause heartburn, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.19 However, the recommended daily dosage of 2-3 cloves of garlic does not cause any problems for the average person.18 Allergic reactions rarely occur.13,20
The use of garlic capsules or garlic powder for medical purposes can attack the intestinal mucosa - in contrast to the extract from black garlic - according to the above-mentioned study. Interactions between garlic and medicines may occur but have not been adequately investigated. Patients taking synthetic anticoagulants should not consume more than 4 g of garlic per day, and even less in old age. Further studies are needed on other possible interactions.19
It is not recommended to put raw garlic on children's ears locally or to insert it into body orifices such as the ear canal. This can lead to irritation of the (mucous) skin.21 In breastfeeding women, the active ingredients of garlic pass into breast milk. Therefore, children may drink more slowly and smell of garlic themselves.13,22
Various scientific studies have shown that the ingredients of garlic can lower blood fat levels and thus prevent arteriosclerotic changes in the blood vessels.23 Further surveys show a preventive or soothing effect against colorectal cancer.24 On the other hand, no clear results could be found to show that garlic lowers total cholesterol levels and triglycerides. Here the investigations contradict each other.25,26
In ancient times, garlic was regarded as a tonic and was used to drive out lice and intestinal parasites. In the Middle Ages it was cultivated in monastery gardens and used for snake bites, hair loss, toothache, skin rashes and respiratory diseases.7
Where does garlic come from? Garlic was first found in Central Asia27 and up to northeastern Iran.7 For more than 5000 years, it has been used as a remedy in China, India and Egypt. Today it is cultivated in countries all over Asia, Africa, Europe and America. In 2017, the world annual harvest was about 28.8 million tons, with the largest output coming from China
Growing your own organic garlic is possible both from brood onions and from individual cloves. By using brood onions the cultivation lasts one year longer.
Individual cloves can be placed at a distance of 15-20 cm from each other in the soil in the herb garden. This is followed by the formation of garlic tubers, which can be harvested as green onions (fresh garlic) or dried onions. Dried onions are ready when a third of the leaves are withered.28 The garlic cloves can be planted either in spring or autumn because the plant is persistent and hardy. There are many varieties for both plantings. It seems, however, that the yield is higher when planted in autumn.7,28 If the cloves are not fully matured, they form a garlic “round” (similar to Chinese garlic or solo garlic, see below for danger of confusion)
According to Wikipedia, there is a danger of confusion with elephant garlic and Chinese garlic (or solo garlic). This is because Chinese garlic (Allium sativum) only consists of one large garlic bulb. But elephant garlic or giant garlic belongs to the leek group (Allium ampeloprasum) - as does the well-known leek.29 The tubers of giant garlic are larger and weigh up to 60 g.30,31
Garlic stands for Allium sativum, a plant species from the genus leek (Allium) in the subfamily of the leek family (Alloideae) and in the family of the Amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae). Some species of this genus are used as a spice, vegetables and medicinal plants; others as ornamental plants. About 940 species belong to the genus Allium, including the leek (Allium ampeloprasum leek group or Allium porrum), the pearl onion (Allium ampeloprasum pearl onion group), wild garlic (Allium ursinum), chives (Allium schoenoprasum) and the onion (Allium cepa).
The Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon (syn.: Allium ophioscorodon) also belongs to the Allium sativum plant species, and is also called serpent garlic.7
Sometimes when chopping garlic - similar to onions - discoloration occurs. The green color forms in garlic due to reactions that occur between the amino acids and sulfur compounds. This is harmless to health.7
Many languages have similar or derived names for leek, garlic and onion. In German the word Knoblauch derives from "split" leek (see the verb klieben = split) because you can split a garlic bulb into many cloves. This is regional to southern Germany.4
But there are also some - partly protected - local breeds such as Italian varieties: Aglio Rosso di Nubia (Nubia Red Garlic), also known as Aglio di Paceco (Paceco Garlic) and Aglio di Trapani (Trapani Garlic) in Sicily, Aglio Bianco Polesano in Venice, Aglio di Voghiera in the region Emilia-Romagna incl. Ferrara.
Also in France there are varieties like the Ail blanc de Lomagne in the Gascogne province, the Ail de la Drôme in the Département Drôme or the Ail rose de Lautrec in the municipality Lautrec (South of France). Spain also has a speciality called Ajo Morado de las Pedroñeras, especially in Las Pedroñeras in the province of Cuenca.