April’s spice of the month

Pungent, sulphurous and sweet, Garlic is one of the oldest and most popular cultivated plants. Its name ‘garleac’ derives from the Anglo Saxon word “spear leek” because of the shape of its cloves.

Historically it has been used as a medicine to treat snake bites, arthritis, and coughs and also as a food for over 7000 years!

It’s been offered to the gods, used as money and an aphrodisiac and to help ward off pests such as mosquitoes. In folklore werewolves and vampires were kept at bay, with garlic rubbed onto chimneys and key holes to ward off spirits entering your home!

It’s also known as the “stinking rose” due to its pungent smell and potent flavour and is easy to grow at home. It is normally cooked to mellow its flavour and can heighten the flavour of a dish when smoked, added to oil and butter or is roasted. It’s often used as a herb with onion, ginger and tomatoes to create dishes around the world and can be added to soup, sauces, meats and a stir-fry.

What is Garlic?

Garlic is primarily used as a spice or herb but is also considered as a vegetable, belonging to the leek, onion and chive family it is also a member of the lily family.

It grows underground in the form of a bulbous perennial herb which is made up to 24 individual cloves, which are covered in a paper like skin protection,  normally removed before most cooking. There are over 600 cultivated sub-varieties of garlic in the world.

The garlic bulb is mainly eaten, although the leaves and flowers are also edible and it is normally added in small quantities to a dish either peeled and chopped up, crushed or eaten whole.

The origins of Garlic

Thought to be one of the earliest cultivated farmed crops, garlic is believed to have originated from Central Asia where it can be found to grow wild. It then is thought to have spread to China, Egypt, Pakistan, India & Southern Europe, but it is difficult to establish its exact origins.

The Sumerians were believed to have used Garlic for its healing qualities and brought it to China, although there are also stories that it originated in China were it was a popular remedy from approx 2700BC.

Garlic was recorded to be mainly eaten by those involved in building the pyramids from the Bronze Age Egypt to increase their strength, whilst early Olympians in Greece would chew a piece of garlic before competing. It was even found preserved in the tomb of King Tutankhamen in 14th Century BC. Romans soldiers ate in before battle for courage and strength.

It was then introduced to America by French, Spanish & Portuguese settlers and by 1000AD it was grown all over the world. In the early 17th century AD the French King Henry IV was baptised in garlic water to ward off ‘evil spirits’.

Grown in England from before 1548 it is now a common ingredient around the world.


How is Garlic used in cooking?

Available all year round, garlic is commonly sautéed in oil for strength and butter for more gentle flavour. A damaged garlic clove releases chemicals that react together to create allicin, the pungent compound we most associate with the small and taste. Garlic bulbs can also be roasted whole to give a caramel flavour with roast vegetables, the cloves can be chopped to release oils and juices and it can be smashed with a knife to intensify the flavour.

Peeled and covered with olive oil in the fridge it will keep for a short period of time and you can even replant sprouting garlic in your garden to grow and use throughout the year.

Delicious when added to butter, in salad dressings, roasted with vegetables or meat or fried and added to sauces and soups.

Buy It Now

For a delicious midweek meal why not try Frank & Co’s vegetarian Chilli Tomato Sauce with a hint of spice including garlic and a combination of chilli peppers.

Delicious used as a tomato sauce with pasta or meat dishes or added to sausages and burgers for some outdoor BBQ’s.

The next Ginger and Spice Festival will take place on 25th September 2021.

For all information about the Ginger and Spice Festival, Market Drayton, including the fringe events, please sign up to our ebulletin below or visit the  website: www.gingerandspicefest.co.uk