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Beyond the Basic Pantry: Garlic

Picture of Garlic Cloves

When the only garlic you’re used to is dried or granulated, you have no idea what you’re missing. Sure, it tastes great sprinkled on pizza…but that’s about it. And don’t even get us started on the pre-minced garlic you’ll find in a jar – fresh garlic is the way to go. A perfect addition to a variety of beef recipes, here are some things to keep in mind when honing in on the perfect head of garlic:

TOUCH: The head should be firm to the touch – no soft spots.

SMELL: Fresh garlic shouldn’t really smell like garlic until peeled.

SEE: Check for dark spots or bruises.

Think all garlic is created equal? Think again! There are different varieties of garlic with very different levels of flavor and sweetness. Most gourmet markets should carry a few types of garlic, but here are three that we fully endorse.

Elephant Garlic

You may browse right over this variety, not even realizing it’s garlic because of its size. As the name implies, these bulbs are huge when compared to other types, but don’t let that fool you. Size aside, this is one of the mildest garlics out there, making it perfect for raw use in salads or stirred into fresh pasta dishes.

Purple Garlic

This beauty possesses a very robust, garlicky taste and characteristic purple veining, visible on the husk. The bold flavor holds up perfectly when simmered or sautéed but should be used sparingly when added raw.

Black Garlic

Black garlic is a specialty item that you probably won’t find in most stores. The cloves are fermented at high temperatures until they turn a black, ink-like color – hence the name. The sweetness of the garlic comes through with hints of syrup and balsamic vinegar. Best when served as-is, black garlic is great on toasted bread for canapes or simply by the spoonful.


- Jared Levan



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