Ask Garden Eats, Learner's Curve
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Ask Garden Eats: Questions About Garlic Nutrition

Q: I made greens-n-beans tonight for dinner (one of my favorites) and my husband and I noticed the garlic was not tasty at all. I certainly put TONS in the dish. This week my husband brought home a different type of garlic that had light purple skin on it. Not sure the name. The other garlic we usually eat and like has the white, flakey skin and cloves are easier to peel.

Is there a difference in taste and potency in garlic? Do you think it also matters how it’s cooked and could it lose nutritional value along with flavor?

Michelle Rochester, New York

Garden Eats: That’s a common question Michelle, thanks for asking. Most of the United State’s garlic is grown in California because of its mild climate. Although white garlic is the most common variety, the purple skinned Russian, Italian and Persian garlic is also quite popular. While white is known for lasting longer with a strong taste, purple, while milder retains its taste longer over time.

Because soil composition affects the taste of all plants, it’s possible that the particular garlic your husband purchased may have been grown in less than optimal soil. Garlic loves sandy, compost rich, clay-like soil, so this may have been a factor in the taste. It’s also possible that the garlic could have been over-watered or may have been planted too late or too early (October is ideal).

Culinary & Medicinal Considerations

All garlic varieties have both culinary and medicinal benefits. To answer your other question, cooking does affect the nutritive qualities of garlic, as does the peeling of it. The active therapeutic constituent contained within garlic is called allicin. Allicin activity is liberated by peeling garlic. Allowing it to sit for approximately ten minutes before ingesting or cooking makes the allicin therapeutically available.

While white garlic is more common and can be stored longer, purple garlic generally retains its taste longer in foods (which makes us think you may have simply gotten some bad garlic-it may have been sitting out at the store for too long).

Our Tips On Cooking Garlic

  • If you prefer a subtle flavor, cook it longer. You’ll produce less smell and a creamier texture.
  • For a more potent, nutritive garlic-rich meal, peel, crush and cook for a short period of time.

Awesome Nutritive Qualities

  • Regulates immunity
  • When accompanied by a fatty meal helps regulate cholesterol levels
  • Improves circulatory health including lowering blood pressure
  • Anti-fungal & anti-bacterial
  • Regulates blood sugar

What’s our advice on choosing the best garlic? Grow your own! It’s by far one of the easiest crops to grow with the greatest rewards!

Check out Kath’s garlic growing guide here!

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This entry was posted in: Ask Garden Eats, Learner's Curve

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C H R I S T I N E Dionese, co-founder of flavor ID and Garden Eats is an integrative health & food therapy specialist, medical & food journalist. She has dedicated her career to helping others understand the science of happiness and its powerful effects on everyday human health by harnessing the power of the epigenetic landscape. To balance the more serious side of her work, she loves to concoct, write about and connect people through food & drink. You can check out her latest work at The Chalkboard Magazine, The Fullest and Rochester's Boomtown Table. Christine lives, works and plays between Southern California & Upstate New York.

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