Garlic is an allium, a member of the onion family. Cut and allowed to dry, a whole bulb of garlic contains many cloves, each wrapped in a thin papery skin.
All year round. Young fresh (or ‘green’) garlic is available between May and August.
Select firm, plump bulbs of garlic that show no signs of softness or sprouting.
The more finely you chop garlic, the more flavour it will impart to a dish. To crush, peel the garlic, then cut in half and place on a chopping board with a little sea salt. Lay a large knife over the garlic and press down with the heel of your hand to crush, then scrape the blade back and forth over the garlic until more finely crushed. A garlic crusher makes this job much simpler. Crushed garlic is added to many sauces, pasta recipes and casseroles, and aioli, a garlic-flavoured mayonnaise dip.
Garlic may also be chopped or sliced for a milder flavour – often used when stir-frying dishes. When frying garlic, never allow it to brown as it will become bitter. For just a hint of flavour, rub a whole, cut clove of garlic around a dish or on top of toasted rustic bread. Whole cloves of garlic or indeed whole bulbs can be roasted or added to a dish to give a mild, sweet flavour. When roasted, the cooked garlic takes on a paste-like consistency, and can be squeezed from a bulb to give a deliciously mild, sweet purée. For a delicious twist on roast potatoes, try adding garlic.
Keep garlic in a cool dry airy place and it will last several weeks.