Food Rant: Just Go with Fresh Garlic

October 4, 2020

Food Rant: Just Go with Fresh Garlic

9 Comments

Get ready for another food rant.

This one is about garlic. I really love garlic.

Glover Gardens Texas-Tuscany Goat Cheese Spread which features fresh garlic prominently
Garlic adorns the Glover Gardens Texas-Tuscany Goat Cheese Spread

I confess that I always increase the garlic in any recipe, and no one in my family complains.

A big handful of chopped fresh garlic
A big handful of garlic for a giant pot of post-Thanksgiving gumbo last year

Garlic is a Magic Ingredient

It is inexpensive, readily available and good for you. Health benefits from its vitamins, minerals and antioxidants include a positive impact on blood pressure and cholesterol levels—check out this short article, 8 Surprising Health Benefits of Garlic.

Garlic keeps. It comes in its own protective little wrapper and can sit in a dark, cool place in your kitchen for a month or more waiting for its time to shine.

Garlic is a team player. While it can play the leading role, and figures prominently in a few Glover Gardens Cookbook recipes down below, it also collaborates with other ingredients really well for a gestalt, more-than-the-sum-of-their-parts flavor-boom result.

Garlic joining other ingredients to make a marinade for chicken thighs
Garlic joining other aromatic ingredients to make a marinade for chicken thighs; recipe here

Cooking with fresh garlic makes your house smell like love lives there. You know what I mean, folks – you’ve probably all been on both sides of this equation. Imagine you’ve had a long, challenging day, and are wearing your weary like a yoke on an ox. Suddenly, an alluring smell is wafting out of the kitchen, and your mood and energy level lifts, giving you the strength to go on and the feeling that all is right with the world. That’s garlic. Or, you’re in the kitchen all alone, preparing dinner, and are suddenly surrounded by family members as the garlic is being sauteed. They know something good is coming, and they love you for it.

Cartoon of woman frying garlic and man looking happy
Image from Pinterest via JeremyChin.com

Garlic has festivals. There are so many garlic festivals across the country and the world that there’s a web site devoted to tracking them.

Cuba NY garlic festival poster "got garlic?"
The Cuba, NY Garlic Festival was cancelled in 2020; perhaps there’s hope for 2021

Garlic inspires. Here are a few quotes to make you smile.

  • “There are many miracles in the world to be celebrated and, for me, garlic is among the most deserving.” Leo Buscaglia, American author, speaker and professor, 1924-1998
  • “The air of Provence was particularly perfumed by the refined essence of this mystically attractive bulb.” Alexandre Dumas, French writer, 1802 – 1870
  • “Garlic all powerful; marvelous seasoning; you are the essence, the incense which revives and exhilarates; you are the spur that excites, stimulates. Garlic! You stir up, you impel, you cheer; you are the only condiment, you are the glorious one, the sovereign extract of the earth.” Gustave Coquiot, French art critic and collector, 1865-1926
  • “Garlic is divine. Few food items can taste so many distinct ways, handled correctly. Misuse of garlic is a crime…Please, treat your garlic with respect…Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screwtop jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don’t deserve to eat garlic.” Anthony Bourdain, American chef, author, journalist and travel documentarian, 1956-2018 (in his book, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly)
Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential - the Glover Gardens copy
Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential – the Glover Gardens copy

Jarred Garlic: Why, Why, Why?

So this brings me to my rant. It’s about minced garlic in a jar. Or chopped garlic in a jar. What Anthony Bourdain called in his book Kitchen Confidential the “vile spew you see rotting in screwtop jars.” It was there, in my way, at the grocery store, on a big display right next to the real garlic.

Minced garlic in a jar isn’t just garlic, my friends. It has stuff added to it. Water. Citric acid or phosphoric acid. Sometimes low-quality oils. Sometimes, the garlic is dehydrated first.

Jarred minced or chopped garlic is a sad shadow of its former robust and cheeky self. The flavor is dimmer, having lost the sharp, fresh “pungent-ness”. It can taste acidic, metallic, sweeter than fresh garlic – it’s just not garlicky.

I understand the lure of using garlic in a jar: it’s easy and quick. And there’s no denying that peeling fresh garlic takes a minute or two and makes your hands sticky with a lasting garlicky perfume that you might not want to be wearing after dinner is over.

But if you’re cooking something from scratch, doesn’t your dish deserve the real deal?

And what about the children? By using giant jars of pre-minced garlic that’s floating in additives, are we fostering a generation of underprivileged taste buds that have never experienced the joy of fresh garlic?

Just go with fresh—you won’t regret it. And, as Donna of Always Backroads has pointed out, buy local garlic whenever you can.

Glover Gardens Recipes Where Garlic has a Starring Role

The very first recipe I posted when this blog was born back in March of 2015 featured garlic prominently.

And you can’t really talk about garlic without mentioning bruschetta.

We like to put our grilled asparagus in a bath of garlic, lemon and olive oil.

The “goat cheese thing,” as we have nicknamed it, is our go-to for parties and is very garlic-forward.

What is your favorite recipe that shouts garlicky goodness from the rooftops?

Disclaimer – there’s no intent here to impugn garlic powder, which definitely has its place in the kitchen. Garlic powder is great in spice mixes and also can provide another layer of garlic flavor when combined with fresh.

© 2020, Glover Gardens



9 thoughts on “Food Rant: Just Go with Fresh Garlic”

  • I love this! I would add just a bit: buy local garlic. Local garlic is fresher. You can identify it by the roots left on the cloves. Imported garlic has to have the roots removed. I can smell the garlic in your post!

    • Yes! I used to have a cookbook from Gilroy, the “garlic capitol of the world,” as they call it. I can’t find it… which means I need to go to Amazon and replace it. I looked up Gilroy when writing the post and was reminded that there was a shooting at the festival last year, which is so very sad.

      • When I went to college in the Bay Area, cutting through Gilroy from either I-5 or Highway 101 was always a treat if you rolled your windows down. Of course, there was a very hard left turn just before you arrive there. It was almost square. I can’t tell you how many time I watched cars just slide in a ditch. At the time, it really was the garlic capitol of the world. Now, it’s China… who produces the worst garlic ever.

      • It’s fun thinking of you going to college in the midst of a garlic miasma. I wonder if that contributed to the cars in the ditch…. 🙂 I didn’t know about Chinese garlic; mmmmm, must do some research! I liked the advice about buying local and am eager to see if it’s available at my farmers’ market and I’ve somehow just been missing it.

  • Yes! I thought I had commented on your garlic post, but evidently not. I still have no idea what the purpose of garlic in a jar is. It doesn’t taste like garlic, and I have yet to find a food that is enhanced by it. Mine is a fresh garlic household, local where possible.

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