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Garlic is one of my very favorite ingredients and possibly one of yours too. For me I can never have too much garlic. It goes with so many things, but is perfect for summer veggies, pasta dishes whether a cooked or “raw’ sauce or for any food in season in summer. Enjoy these tips for cooking with garlic…

Choosing:  Look for firm bulbs that feel heavy, with no signs of mold or “sprouting” at the top. Also avoid bulbs with soft or shriveled cloves.

Storing: Keep in a cool, dark environment with plenty of ventilation. I store mine in a terra cotta “garlic keeper” with a few holes on the side and a lid on top. Never store garlic in the refrigerator as it encourages rotting. Keep the bulbs whole and only break off individual cloves as needed.

Bulbs and Cloves: A bulb of garlic is comprised of several cloves having grown tightly together.  To release a clove or two of garlic from a tight bulb, place the bulb of garlic upside down on a work surface. Using the palm of your hand, press down hard on the bulb of garlic. The cloves should then break free.

Peeling a Few Cloves of Garlic:  Place a garlic clove on it’s side on your work surface. Taking your largest or widest knife, give the clove a really good “whack” to loosen the skin.

Peeling Several Cloves of Garlic:  Bring a small pot of water to a boil and place the garlic cloves into the boiling water for about 30 seconds. Drain and cool the cloves of garlic quickly in cold water to stop the cooking process. Pinch the cloves and the skin practically slides right off! Making pasta at the same time? Take advantage of your boiling pasta water at the same time!

Never put a bunch of papery garlic skins through your garbage disposal as it will clog up.

Preparation:  Chopping, mincing or crushing garlic will create a bolder, sharper flavor than slices or whole cloves of garlic. The flavor breaks down as soon as it is chopped or minced, so be sure to prepare your garlic just prior to cooking with it.

While chopping garlic, add a little salt along with it to keep the garlic from sticking to your knife. Be sure to adjust the salt content in the recipe to make up for the addition of salt with the garlic.

Got an old clove with a center green sprout starting? Cut the clove in half and simply remove the green sprout. It has a bitter and harsh flavor that you don’t want in your dish.

Cooking with Garlic:  Heating garlic mellows the flavor, while the finer you chop fresh garlic will intensify its flavor. Careful not to burn garlic – never add garlic to a pan with hot oil…instead, add the chopped garlic and the oil at the same time and then heat the pan. Then cook until the garlic is golden in color. To prevent from burning, cook garlic over low heat. Cook garlic for too long and it becomes bitter.

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