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Garlic lovers: get simple prep tips and recipe ideas for your favorite bulb

Best to buy
Fresh garlic is available all the year-round.

Cut & clean
Break garlic segments away from bulb. Place clove under the side of a large knife and pound once or twice to remove skin. In recipes that call for whole garlic cloves, simply break cloves from bulb, peel, and add to dish.

Spice it up
Use chopped or puréed garlic to season anything from salads to soups, from sides to main courses.

Quick & easy recipe
Roast garlic for a smooth, nutty flavor. Put unpeeled cloves in a 350°F (175°C) oven for 15 minutes; mash and use in sauces, spreads, and soups.

Preparation, uses, and tips

Garlic is usually peeled before it is used. Among the exceptions are roasted garlic bulbs and the famous dish, “chicken with 40 cloves of garlic,” in which unpeeled garlic cloves are baked with chicken in a broth until they become sweet and butter-soft. Crushing, chopping, pressing, or pureeing garlic releases more of its essential oils and delivers a sharper, more assertive flavor than slicing or leaving it whole.

Garlic is an essential element in cuisines around the world, especially those of China, India, France, Greece, Italy, and the Mediterranean area. It is used to flavor everything from vegetables to poultry, beef, lamb, and seafood, as well as dressings, sauces, casseroles, and soups. Experiment to see how much garlic suits your taste buds. However, in general, 1 pound (.45kg) of vegetables or beans will benefit from 2 to 4 cloves of fresh garlic.

One well-known but unfortunate side effect of garlic is that its components remain present in the body long after it’s consumed, affecting both breath and skin odor. While chewing on a sprig of fresh parsley can help, no perfect remedy is yet known.

Raw garlic has a vibrantly sharp, biting flavor, which some find to be too strong. Cooking eliminates this bite and softens its flavor.

Roasting garlic gives it a smooth, soft, nutty flavor. To roast, place unpeeled cloves in the oven at 350°F (177°C) for about 15 minutes; peel, mash, and use in purees, sauces, and soups.

Buying and Storing Tips

Fresh garlic is available year-round. Canned, dried, and powdered varieties are also available.

When buying fresh, purchase firm, plump bulbs with dry skins. Avoid heads with soft or shriveled cloves, and those stored in the refrigerated section of the produce department. Store fresh garlic in an open container, away from other foods and in a cool, dark place. Properly stored, unbroken bulbs can be kept up to eight weeks, though they will begin to dry out toward the end of that time.

Once broken from the bulb, individual cloves will keep from eight to ten days.


Garlic is sold fresh or dried and processed into flakes and powder.

The most common varieties include the white-skinned American garlic, which is strongly flavored, and Mexican and Italian garlic, both of which are milder and have mauve-colored skins. Depending on the variety, individual cloves of American, Mexican, and Italian garlic can range from 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches (1.3–3.8cm) in length.

Green garlic, available occasionally in specialty produce markets, is young garlic before it begins to form cloves. It resembles a baby leek, with a long green top and white bulb, sometimes tinged with pink. The flavor of this baby plant is much gentler than that of mature garlic.

In addition to fresh, garlic is sold as dehydrated garlic flakes (sometimes referred to as instant garlic). These are slices or bits of garlic that must be reconstituted before using, unless you are adding them to a liquid-based dish, such as soup or stew. Ground dehydrated flakes are sold as garlic powder. Garlic salt is garlic powder blended with salt and a moisture-absorbing agent.

Nutrition Highlights

Garlic (raw), 3 cloves (9g)
Calories: 13.4
Protein: 0.6g
Carbohydrate: 3g
Total Fat: 0.04g
Fiber: 0.2g

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