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Tips for Working with Garlic.

     Garlic can not only add wonderful depth and flavor to your meals, but it is also very healthy. Eating garlic can help to expand the small blood vessels in your body and reduce inflammation, which in turns lowers blood pressure, helps to manage blood sugar, and can even fight off the common cold. Here are some tips for working with garlic which can help you enjoy the flavor without being overwhelmed.

Selecting Garlic
     Garlic is usually sold as bulbs covered by a papery skin. Within the outer skin are up to twenty individual cloves, which are each covered by an inner skin. The cloves are the part that will be used for cooking, once the inner and outer skins are removed.
     When buying garlic, look for a bulb that is heavy for its weight and which is surrounded by plenty of outer skin. The cloves should not feel mushy or desiccated when pressed. There should be no black spots or signs of sprouting in the bulb.

Preparing Garlic
     There are two general rules about cooking with garlic: the finer it's chopped, the sharper the flavor. The longer it's cooked, the milder the flavor. By keeping these two rules in mind, you can use garlic to its best effect to get the flavor that you love. Here are a few ways that you can prepare garlic, from the mildest to the strongest flavor result:
  • Whole cloves, not pierced
  • Whole cloves, pierced
  • Whole cloves, slightly crushed
  • Sliced cloves
  • Chopped cloves
  • Minced cloves
     Removing the inner skin can be time-consuming, especially if you're using several cloves. There are some kitchen tools to assist this process, but you can also peel the cloves more easily if you crush them slightly. Soaking in cool water for an hour also helps release the skin.
     To remove the smell from your hands after working with garlic, rub stainless steel cookware over your hands while washing under cool running water.

Cooking with Garlic
     Garlic becomes very acidic if burnt, so be sure not to overcook it. If you sauté the cloves in butter until translucent before adding other ingredients, you'll usually end up with a very mild flavor. For a sharper, stronger flavor, add shortly before your meal is done.

Storing Garlic
     Garlic should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct light, and can keep for months. Discard bulbs once they start to sprout.

     Article provided courtesy of Only Cookware - a resource for professional cookware, stainless steel cookware sets and cast iron cookware.

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