Garlic belongs to the Allium plant family – the same family as onions, shallots and leeks. Garlic resembles onion in both size and growth habit. It has a shallow, fibrous root system and a modified and flattened stem. Garlic is typically propagated from cloves since it has no actual seed. Garlic is popular in many cuisines because of its strong smell and flavour. Aside from cooking, garlic is renowned for its health and medicinal benefits.
Garlic grows all over the world. It is believed to be originated from the mountainous region of Central Asia. Here in Australia, about 300 to 500 tonnes of garlic is produced every year. During the last decade a decline in garlic production in Australia has been evident. Australian farmers have been exporting garlic to New Zealand, China, Africa, Taiwan and USA. For the past 2 years a resurgence of interest in garlic production is improving in the country.
How to Grow your Own Garlic?
Garlic mostly grows on fertile, well-drained loamy soils. In the growing areas of New South Wales garlic is planted during March and April and the vegetative phase lasts up to winter and spring. Its maturity will be achieved from early November until January.
Australian Garlic is propagated by planting its cloves. Be sure not to break the bulbs into cloves until planting them because unbroken bulbs store better. Select a place that is weed free to plant your garlic. For that matter weed control in the early stages of planting is necessary to grow any kind of crop. Proper irrigation is essential to the development of healthy garlic crops. For optimum yields, water stress should be avoided in garlic crops prior to the first sign of rain or frost because it will interfere in the curing stage. Remove the garlic bulbs from the field and transfer it to a more secure and ventilated shed like environment.
How to Select and Store Garlic
Garlic is available all year round but, it is important to select suitable varieties and store them properly. Garlic comes in various forms – fresh, flakes, powder, oil and puree.
Selecting Australian Garlic:
- Select garlic that is big, clean, firm bulbs with unbroken dry skin. Its silky skin should be tight and intact.
- A single garlic bulb usually contains 12 to 20 individual cloves of garlic. The individual cloves are generally covered with pinkish or purple skin and its head is covered with white papery outer skin.
- When cooking, remove the green sprouts from the centre of the garlic, the sprouts has a bitter taste. To remove it, cut the garlic into two and pull the sprout from each side and discard.
- Store garlic in a cool, dry and dark area.
- Unbroken garlic bulbs will last for 3 to 4 months.
- Individual cloves will last for 5 to 10 days.
- Garlic sprouts can still be used in salads and stir fries.
- Avoid refrigerating garlic.
Common Garlic Diseases
Most of the diseases that attack onions are likely to attack garlic too. Here are the most common garlic diseases:
- Downy Mildew – This is the pale oval spots on the leaves. It attacks the leaves, turning it yellow before its death. The cool moist weather encouraged the down mildew disease. There are organic solutions to prevent downy mildew.
- White Rot – It is the white fluffy growth of the base of the plant. Soils on the cold and wet side causes this condition. To be free from this problem, carefully select planting materials.
- Virus Diseases – The most common viruses in Australian garlic are called Leek Yellow Stripe Virus, Onion Yellow Dwarf Virus and Shallot Latent Virus. These infections may cause reduced crop yields. It is spread by insects and by planting infected cloves. It is imperative to carefully select your planting materials to avoid these particular
Garlic is generally utilised for both medicinal and culinary purposes. It is one of the oldest horticultural crops in the world.
Cooking with Australian Garlic
Garlic is a common seasoning and can be used in almost any savory dish, from soups, vinaigrette’s and sautéed vegetables. Most garlic lovers haunt for its distinct taste and aroma in any dishes they cook. The intensity of the garlic to your dish depends on how finely you minced or chopped it and how long you cook the garlic for. If you prefer a bold garlic flavor, chopped and minced the garlic well, but if you want a subtle garlic taste- try slivering the cloves. If you are aiming to achieve a more delicate garlic flavor to your dish try roasting the cloves prior to incorporating into your dish. Garlic can be sautéed in oil or butter, just be more cautious in sautéing it in butter because it will burn faster.
Garlic Health Benefits
Garlic has been considered as a wonder drug. Its health benefits and medicinal properties have long been known.
Here are some of the health benefits of garlic as proven by various research studies:
- Garlic contains Allicin, it is the one responsible for garlic’s distinct smell. Allicin is a Sulphur compound that is abundant in garlic and mostly brings its health benefits.
- Garlic contains most of the healthy nutrients and has very low calorie content. It’s rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and Manganese.
- Garlic is known to boost the immune system. With garlic supplementation, it helps prevent and reduce severity of common illnesses like the flu and common colds.
- Studies show that garlic supplementation has a significant impact in reducing high blood pressure.
- According to research, garlic supplementation reduces the cholesterol level of people suffering from high cholesterol.
- Garlic contains antioxidants that protect cell damage and ageing. It helps in preventing Alzheimer’s diseases and Dementia.
- Garlic fights infectious diseases and assists you to live longer.
- Eating garlic can help detoxify heavy metals in the body.
- Studies show that, consuming garlic strengthens and improves bone health.