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Antigo, Wisconsin
 
 
All about Garlic
History
Garlic (Allium savitum) is a species in the onion family. It has been used as both food and medicine in many cultures for thousands of years. Originating from Central Asia, the plant has spread since ancient times to other parts of the world. It is mentioned in ancient Egyptian, Greek, Indian and Chinese writings.
Garlic, probably because of its pungent smell has been regarded as a force to defend against evil. Central European Folk beliefs considered garlic as a powerful ward against demons, werewolves and vampires.
Growing and Storing
There are many varieties of garlic, differing in size and taste. In northern Wisconsin, hard neck garlic can be grown successfully. Individual cloves are planted in the fall before frost and mulched with layers of straw and pine boughs. The mulch is removed in spring when daffodils are coming up.
During its growth it develops a long stem with a seed pod, which should be removed to promote formation of large heads. These “scapes” at their tender stage, are edible and delicious in stir fries. Bulbs are ready to be dug up and dried for storage after the lower leaves turn brown.
Garlic is best stored in a cool, dry place and will keep for several months. The cloves will eventually develop a green center which is slightly bitter and should be removed before use.
Nutrition and medicinal applications
Garlic is rich in antioxidants, which helps to destroy free radicals.
A large number of sulfur compounds contribute to the smell and taste of garlic. Allicin has been found to be the one most responsible for the spiciness of raw garlic. Cooking garlic removes allicin, thus mellowing its sharp taste.
Garlic is still widely used in traditional medicine for a wide variety of ailments.
Western medicine also considers the addition of garlic in one’s diet to have a positive effect on certain conditions such as lowering blood pressure, blood glucose levels and possibly cholesterol.
Recipes
China is by far the largest producer and consumer of garlic, accounting for over 75% of world output, followed by India and South Korea. This is reflected in their cuisine.
In Europe, garlic is mostly used in Mediterranean cooking.
In most recipes, garlic is used as a flavoring agent. Below are a few examples where garlic takes center stage.
> Roasted Garlic
> Garlic Soup
> Garlic parsley Butter
> Pesto
We have a special treat this month
Lee Dinsmore of Elcho was so fascinated by the appearance of the garlic scapes on the garlic he planted that he wrote the poem below and graciously agreed to include it in our Newsletter.
Garden Celebrity
The cloves poke and thrust their shoots up,
Then out of the earth
Propelled unchallenged, into the world.
Free, they curl and twist,
Already sure of themselves.
And yet a teeming energy,
Their graceful seed pod swells,
Not yet expanded,
Lets looping tendrils reach in delicate ballet,
a riotous snarl.
Declaring an arrogant self-esteem,
Unabashed, they are garlic.
Lee Dinsmore, 2008