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

SAUCES & DIPS
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

…and MARINADES
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:

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The best

By Sally on March 13, 2014

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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

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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 13, 2012

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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

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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

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love you!!!

By resteen14 on September 11, 2012

54321

love, love Paula and show

By Becky Wyse on September 11, 2012

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hi! wink i was wondering if you could share the recipe for the chiken/grape salad-the one that is pictured on the croissant above? thanks! wink sandra
Sandra Neuheimer-Huller in Chicken Salad: A Southern Staple on April 19, 2014 at 9:37 am

Where do I buy these magazines
in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 7:22 am

I WISH I COULD COOK. COULD I COME WORK FOR JUST ROOM AND BOARD AT YOUR NEW RESTURAUNT IN PIGEON FORGE FOR THE SUMMER? I WENT TO COLLEGE NOT FAR FROM THERE - HIWASSEE COLLEGE. YOU WOULDN'T HAVE TO PAY ME, I WOULD WORK FOR FREE JUST FOR THE EXPERIENCE. TAMMY LEVAN 19 SPENCER WAY KINGS PARK, NY 11754 HAPPY EASTER! CHRIST IS RISEN!
TAMMY L LEVAN in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 3:31 am

Hi Bubbles, You have some great tips. Can't wait to read your other blogs! Please give Aunt Peggy a big hug from me and here is one for you! (((HUGS))) See you in May!
Jaci Pardun in 10 Quick Household Tips on April 18, 2014 at 10:05 pm

Paula, I am glad to know that I am not the only person who makes Easter Baskets for their adult children and mail them across the United States. My Daughter lives in Long Beach, CA and I not only sent her a basket but her husband and my granddaughter Reese. We also buy special Russel Stover Bunnies for each child too. My husband has the list in his phone... Sara .. Cookies 'n Crème.... Sidney and Stephen.. Peanut Butter Etc. It one of my favorite things to do for my kids.. no matter how old they get. And passing it along to my Grandchildren. It's even more special to me knowing we share a family tradition. Blessings and Happy Easter!!
Sharon Cason-Card in A Basketful of Traditions on April 18, 2014 at 10:03 pm