What’s in Season: Garlic

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By The Paula Deen Test Kitchen

There’s nothing like the smell of cooking garlic to whet the appetite.  It enhances the taste of just about anything besides dessert, making it one of the most useful ingredients in the kitchen.  Humans have exploited its culinary and other purported properties for thousands of years all over the world.  It can bolster a marinade, pack spice in dips and sauces, including pesto, round out braises, soups, and stews, combine with meat and seafood for mouthwatering sensations, and of course pastas, which can be helplessly flat without garlic. 

Garlic should be a constant pantry staple.  Combat its aftereffects by favoring recipes where it’s cooked, cut small, and combined with acids like mustard, vinegar, citrus, or herbs like mint or parsley.

A Little Background
Garlic is part of the allium family, like shallots and onions.  Supermarkets usually sell cured garlic, which is harvested and consumed year-round for an extended shelf-life of 6-12 months. Fresh (green) garlic and its scapes are typically harvested and eaten during mid-late summer.

Garlic’s most powerful compound, allicin, loses potency when cooked, so nutritionists often recommend consuming it raw or lightly cooked. Studies suggest that daily consumption of garlic may contain many health-related benefits from remedying strep throats to fighting cancer.

Buying, Storing, and Preparing
Shop for very firm bulbs with tight skin. Smaller cloves tend to have more flavor, but the biggest cloves are easier to handle, so consider how you’ll be cutting and tasting it.

Garlic keeps best in cool, dry, well-ventilated containers such as baskets or mesh-bags; refrigeration should be minimal and freezing is not advised.  Sprouted cloves (with central green shoots) should be removed due to bitterness. 

Peeling garlic isn’t the end of the world!  Smashing cloves with the heel of your knife on a flat surface, squeezing the skin at the ends, or tossing a bunch between small bowls so the skins rub together will provide a head-start.  Once you taste the difference between freshly minced and jarred garlic, you’ll probably forget about store-bought products.

Other Culinary Tips
Roasting garlic is an invaluable skill for which we have quick instructional videos for roasting garlic on your stovetop or
roasting garlic.  Use roasted garlic to blend with butter, like our zesty garlic bread, combine with dressings and dips, or serve plattered with a big holiday roast.
Peeled garlic also lends itself well to pickling for an antipasto platter, brining and confits.

When sautéing or sweating garlic, it burns fast, so it’s typically added after you’ve softened your onions, as in this Very Green Soup.

Check out these test kitchen recipes to see some of our favorite things to do with garlic!

PASTA , POTATOES (mashed and roasted), & other carb-loving indulgences (it’s great in breading):
Shrimp Scampi with Artichokes and Basil
Rosemary and Garlic Roasted New Potatoes
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Grilled Veggie Pizza
Stuffed Artichokes
Salmon Burgers

Garlicky GREENS and other vegetables, including salad:
Quick Collard Green Saute
Buttery Spinach and Mushrooms
Stuffed Red Peppers

Classics like traditional tomato sauce, salsa, guacamole, and chutney…
Basic Italian Tomato Sauce
Homemade Salsa on the Fly
Spicy Basil Guacamole
Green Tomato Chutney
Bobby’s Hot Tomato Jack and Crab Dip
Warm Turnip Green Dip
Lightening Fast White Bean Dip

Mini Lemon Pork Sandwiches
Grilled Boneless Sirloin and Vidalia Onion Skewers
Minted Lamb

Read More From What's in Season.

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Reader Comments:


The best

By Sally on March 13, 2014


There are so many delicious receipes I don't know which one comes first. Keep them coming, Paula. Love to you

By Ida Dohoney on July 06, 2013


Thank you for your wonderful recipes. I really enjoyed the information about garlic. I use a lot of garlic as I have high cholesterol and garlic is very good for controlling the cholesterol.

By Rose Marie on September 14, 2012


Love watching your show on the Food network channel. You are looking great!! Keep those good recipes coming!!

By Wylene McAlister on September 13, 2012


Paula, I have watched you heard your stories since I can't remember, You were like one of my soap opera's,always watching you and waiting for your next reacipe that you recieved from family or friends, but the best was when you dreamed baout it! I am so happy that you survived you depresstion and I know it can be diblitating from personal experiance. You are a sucess story and a great wife, mother and grandma... keep sharing your wonderful memories and recipes. Always. Your Secret Friend, Maria (Belinda) Bennett

By Maria Bennett on September 11, 2012


love you!!!

By resteen14 on September 11, 2012


love, love Paula and show

By Becky Wyse on September 11, 2012

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Paula, I love watching you and your family. I miss seeing your show, I watched you everyday. My son lives in Charleston S.C. He took me to the Lady & Sons to eat. Oh my goodness! People are always telling me that I look just like the cooking lady Paula Deen. I always tell them that you are my hero. May God Bless You Mary Ann
Mary Ann Tharp in A Summer of Burgers on August 15, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Add a few spoonfuls of parmesan cheese to the flour and cornmeal breading and it kicks the tomatoes up another notch. Bev
in Crispy Fried Green Tomatoes on August 15, 2014 at 10:33 am

I just bought Paula's Peach Salad Dressing and wondered if anyone has a good recipe that they use it in?
Melissa in Taste Testing 101 on August 13, 2014 at 8:36 am

Congrats Bobby. Loved the family picture miss you Paula on TV will be watching online. Jack is getting big. Looks like his mom but Matt aka moose has your face. Your eyes cheeks hair even falls to his face like yours except to the left. Good luck on your next venture. You give us other 60+ yr women strength to move on. Keep up the good work.
Carol Bryant in Love at Last on August 11, 2014 at 6:12 pm