A bulbous plant consisting of single head containing smaller bulbs or cloves individually wrapped in papery skins, which are all wrapped tightly together with another layer of dry papery skin, forming the bulb head. Garlic, like onions, leeks and scallions, are part of the allium family. Garlic, one of the most important and widely used seasonings for food dishes, is available fresh or dried. However, dried garlic is the most commonly used type of garlic and can be found in a white, pink or purple variety. When it is used in a raw form, it is pungent and slightly bitter, but it becomes very mild and sweet when sautéed or baked.
How to use: Garlic is most often used as a flavoring agent but can also be eaten as a vegetable. It is used to flavor many foods, such as salad dressings, vinaigrettes, marinades, sauces, vegetables, meats, soups, and stews. It is often used to make garlic butter and garlic toast. Garlic powder can be substituted if necessary - 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder is equal to one medium fresh clove of common garlic.
How to buy: When selecting, choose firm, plump bulbs that still have their paper-like skin intact. There should be no signs of sprouting, soft spots, or other blemishes. Fresh garlic is readily available year round. Garlic is available in forms other than fresh, such as powder, flakes, oil, and puree.
Storage: Store fresh garlic in a cool, dark, dry place that is well ventilated for 4 to 6 months, but is best when used within a few weeks. When the cloves have been removed, they can be stored frozen for several months. If garlic has been chopped, minced, or prepared in any way, it should be refrigerated. Be sure to store in an airtight container in the refrigerator to prevent the garlic odor from affecting other foods.