In Season: Garlic

Though you may always be able to find it at the grocery store, garlic has a season, and this is it! Discover all the ways to savor this ancient bulb.
08_PickeledVeggies_275.tif

08_PickeledVeggies_275.tif

Jamie Kimm Marina Malchin

Though you may always be able to find it at the grocery store, garlic has a season, and we are in it! We've got the deets on garlic's nutritional benefits (it fights off more than vampires), plus discover all the ways to savor this ancient bulb.

What, Where & When?

A member of the lily family, you may also be familiar with garlic’s cousins -- leeks, shallots, onions and chives. These veggies share a similar flavor, but garlic has the most punch. Garlic bulbs (or “heads”) are tight bunches of cloves encased in a white paper-like skin -- some may have brown or purple streaks. The super-sized “elephant” variety has a milder flavor and is actually more closely related to the leek.

The spring preview to garlic is the harvest of fresh and oniony garlic scapes. These young garlic shoots are only available at markets for a short time and they make a mean pesto!

Farm-fresh garlic is typically harvested from June to August and can be found at the markets through the winter months when stored properly.

Nutrition Facts

Garlic is a fantastic way to add lots of flavor for virtually no calories (one clove will set you back 5 or so). They also contain a hefty dose of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants so it pays to sprinkle it into your daily diet. Read more about the health benefits of garlic.

What To Do With Garlic

Garlic equals flavor and a little goes a long way, especially if it’s raw. Sauteing or roasting will mellow out the flavor and bring out the natural sweetness. Use whole cloves to infuse flavor in stocks, sauces, pickles and oils – a crushed clove is the secret ingredient in my balsamic vinaigrette. Also try mashing garlic into a paste with some coarse salt or grating it with a microplane. These methods will allow you to add tons of garlic flavor without worrying about the overpowering taste of biting down on a chunk.  While we're on it, want to get rid of garlic breath? The jury is still out, but the best advice I’ve heard is combining it with some fresh citrus or parsley. Since these foods go delightfully well with garlic, it can’t hurt to give it a try.

Shopping Tip: Choose bulbs that are tight and firm. Store them in an open or ventilated container in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months. Once the bulb has been separated into cloves, use within 12 days.

Recipes to Try:
TELL US: What’s your favorite way to gobble garlic?

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »

You Might Also Like:

Next Up

Grate Your Garlic

Hot Tips From Food Network Kitchens' Katherine Alford: If you're using raw garlic in a dish, grate the cloves on a fine grater.

In Season: Eggplant

There aren’t many vegetables I don’t love, and it would be tough to come up with my top 10 favorites. If I had to, though, eggplants would definitely make the list. Friends often ask, “Are there other ways to prepare them than fried eggplant Parmesan?” Yes, of course!

In Season: Parsnips

Every time I buy parsnips at my local market, the checkout person asks, “What’s that?” Parsnips are underappreciated and foreign to some, but they are a flavorful ingredient for soups, stews and side dishes.

In Season: Watermelon

Full of cancer-battling lycopene and low in calories, watermelon is a classic summer fruit that works well alone, paired with cheese or mixed into a drink.

In Season: Avocados

Perfect for guacamole or tossed on a salad, pebbly-skinned avocados are excellent during the winter months. Here are the avocado basics and a few healthy dishes to make today.

In Season: Grapefruit

With National Grapefruit Month upon us (yes, even fruit get a month of celebration), we thought what better time to introduce this refreshing tropical citrus, which is in season now.

In Season: Corn

We could give you an earful of ideas for healthy ways to prepare fresh corn. Here are some classic dishes -- some fresh on the cob and others creamed.

In Season: Persimmons

Finding uses for this ancient Chinese delicacy may seem intimidating, but persimmons are versatile. Just be sure to catch them while you can! They are in season from October through January.

In Season: Raspberries

Raspberries have a sweet-tart flavor and are full of vitamin C and fiber -- a perfect summer berry to enjoy.

In Season: Leeks

Leeks might not be something you experiment much with. I didn't know what to do with them for the longest time, but a little research turned up some endless possibilities. Take a step beyond the same old onions and try these instead.