“Garlic used as it should be used is the soul, the divine essence, of cookery. The cook who can employ it successfully will be found to possess the delicacy of perception, the accuracy of judgment, and the dexterity of hand which go to the formation of a great artist.”
Mrs. W. G. Waters in ‘The Cook’s Decameron,’ 1920
Stinky? Absolutely, and absolutely worth every stinky bite! Garlic may come in a small package, but it’s packed with over 60 important nutrients, including:
- Adensosine- anti-clotting properties protect against heart attack and stroke
- Ajoenes- anti-clotting; antifungal
- Allicin- Antibacterial
- Antifungal (protects against yeast infections)
- Inhibit tumor growth
- Help prevent formation of cancer causing nitrosamines in your stomach
- Block damaging effects of carcinogens
- Promote cancer cell death
- Sulfur Compounds (includes ajoenes, allyl sulfides, adenosine)
- Antiviral (may help prevent cold sores)
- Anti- clotting
- Concentrated source of other key nutrients:
- Calcium for strong bones
- VitaminB1 and phosphorus for energy production
- Protein for muscle building
So why the stink? As you can see from above, garlic is loaded with a variety of sulfur compounds. One of those compounds, allicin, is responsible for the potent odor. As garlic is digested, part of the sulfur compounds enter the bloodstream and are ultimately exhaled through the lungs or released through sweat glands. Eating parsley, fennel seed, or mint will help with the breath, but the body odor simply has to dissipate on its own! And unfortunately, humans are especially adept at detecting sulfur compounds…we can identify the smell of 1 part sulfur per 1 billion parts of air!!
- The active compounds in allicin, allyl sulfides, are not released until garlic is pressed, crushed, chopped, or sliced.
- The beneficial sulfur compounds take a few minutes to develop, so garlic should be allowed to “rest” for 5-10 minutes after chopping otherwise cutting or crushing).
- Letting garlic sit also stabilizes the allicin and makes it more heat resistant during cooking.
- Cooking damages many of garlic’s key nutrients. Garlic is most nutritious when eaten raw or when cooked for under 15 minutes. The longer the cook time, the more nutrients lost!
- Fresh garlic is more nutritional than dried.
- Roasting garlic brings out a delicate sweetness as the starches caramelize and turn to sugars. Many people prefer the subtle sweet flavor of roasted garlic, but many of the health benefits associated with garlic are lost in the roasting process. That doesn’t mean you need to skip roasted garlic! Just be sure to include raw or lightly cooked garlic in your diet as well.
- Garlic should be stored in a cool dark place, where it will last for up to 1 month. Refrigeration, which increases moisture, causes garlic to soften and spoil. Garlic can also be frozen with little loss of nutrients.