Garlic is my absolute favorite thing to grow and consume.  It has so many uses (in cooking, for health, and most importantly, for keeping vampires at bay) and it also takes on the traits of where it’s planted – kind of like us.  And, if you’re able to save enough from your current season’s harvest to re-plant for next year, the crop will pick up more and more characteristics of your garden (what’s in your soil, how it’s tended and, if you think this way, your vibes and intention) as time goes on.

 

There is a lot of data on garlic.  It’s good for your heart, it’s a natural antimicrobial/antifungal and it has been known to play an important part in the treatment of high cholesterol.  Currently garlic research is taking place in areas of interest including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke and much more.

 

The largest study so far was conducted in Germany where 261 patients from 30 general practices were given either garlic powder tablets or a placebo. After a 12 week treatment period average serum cholesterol levels dropped by 12% in the garlic treated group and triglycerides dropped by 17% compared to the placebo group. 

 

There’s also research regarding garlic in pregnancy which shows that taking garlic during pregnancy can cut the risk of raised blood pressure and protein retained in the urine (something called “pre-eclampsia”). Studies reveal that garlic may help to boost the birth-weight of babies destined to be too small.  Definitely run this by your doctor, though, ladies.

 

Recently the medical journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy has confirmed the chemotherapeutic effects of garlic. The researchers were able to study how garlic works at the molecular level using allicin, garlic's main biologically active component.  This research supports the notion that garlic is an excellent natural antimicrobial drug that can disable an unusually wide variety of infectious organisms.   This probably explains why garlic doesn’t attract any pests in the garden (though the cloves can rot in the ground  if there isn’t proper drainage in your garden) -- in fact, when garlic is mixed in water and sprayed on crops, it repels certain insects naturally and non-toxically.

Other studies have clarified the role allicin plays in preventing heart disease and other disorders.  Allicin, created when garlic cloves are crushed, protects the plant from soil parasites and fungi and is also responsible for garlic's pungent smell. A natural weapon against infection, allicin disables dysentery-causing amoebas by blocking two groups of enzymes that are among the main culprits of infection (bacteria, fungi and viruses).

The role of allicin in warding off infection may be particularly valuable in light of the growing bacterial resistance to antibiotics. It is unlikely that bacteria would develop resistance to allicin because this would require modifying the very enzymes that make their activity possible.  Good news to those (including this gal) who dread the use of antibiotics.

It has also been suggested that allicin acts as an antioxidant, which we know is something that gobbles up harmful free radicals believed to contribute to tumor growth, atherosclerosis, aging and other processes.

So to start ingesting as soon as possible, here are some great ways to enjoy:

Sauteed garlic scapes (the shoots that sprout in mid-summer that are cut to promote bulb growth) – chop them and saute in oil, butter, salt and pepper and add anything on top (tofu, chicken, onions, peppers, broccoli, snap peas, etc.).

Baked/Roasted.  Put the whole head in the oven wrapped in foil.  Bake until soft.  And you can pop the flavorful cloves onto bread, crackers or just directly into your mouth.

Chopped, pressed, sliced raw and stirred into freshly made pasta that has some oil, butter, salt, pepper and whatever herb you feel like (sage or basil, are particular favorites).

When roasting vegetables (eggplant works especially well because it absorbs the oil immediately and gets crunchy and luscious), paint on a mixture of pressed garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper before putting them into the oven or on the grill.

As a marinade for fish with soy sauce, ginger and maple syrup – “yum” doesn’t say enough.

When roasting a turkey or chicken, slip chunks of freshly cut pieces under the skin and in the cavity (with onions, other veggies, stuffing, or just on its own). Of course butter the skin before baking.

In a garden salad, thinly sliced garlic with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper is an outrageously tasty, cleansing and simple dressing.  Lots of fresh cloves in the food processor when making pesto or hummus. You get the picture -- anywhere, any time...

 

This is a picture of the difference in size between a head of garlic whose scape was not cut (left) and one whose scape was cut.  Big difference!

 

garlic_w__wo_scape_7-15-11.JPG