Cooking Louisiana  -  Garlic
Garlic, the mystical aromatic herb that stinks so deliciously. A member of the Lily family, garlic is the most pungent of all herbs.

Garlic is used extensively in Cajun & Creole cooking as you well know. The most famous Garlic Festival is held in Gilroy California and has been celebrated since 1979.

California is one of the top producers of garlic in the states. Mexico imports garlic to the states as does South America and China.

Pungency level depends on the variety and climatic source. From what I've found the most pungent garlic variety is the Leningrad at 112 and the least pungent is the American May at 35 on the pungency scale.

In Louisiana we typically grow Italian, Elephant and Creole varieties. The Elephant garlic is not a true garlic.

Garlic Eating Contest? Why not! Drums, PA.

Cooking with garlic is often thought of as being as simple as throwing it in the pot, not so! The two basic uses are browned or roasted, and raw; each having it's own type of garlic flavor. With that in mind be sure when you're starting a dish with the trinity throw the garlic in after the trinity is almost done. You only want to lightly brown garlic since burning it to any degree chemically alters it to be very bitter.

What's the best form of garlic to purchase? Fresh is always best.
What do I look for? Firm cloves, nice color.
How much? Buy only what you'll use in a few months.
How do I store it? In the cool, dark, dry location. (not the refrigerator or freezer)
Can I peel it and refrigerate it? Yes, totally covered in olive oil but it won't be as good as fresh.

Peeling Garlic:
Cut the tip off, cut through the butt and pull away a section of the peel, gently crush with flat side of kitchen knife, peel and chop.

Garlic PlantGrowing garlic is simple and can be done in any garden or rectangular container with a med-light soil (not too dense). It is a bit of a strange herb since it grows for 9 months; planted in August and harvested in May. California, Texas and Louisiana are the major growing states.

This plant makes a great school project since it's planted when school begins and is harvested at the end of the school year. Garlic is a slow growing plant and is maintenance free!