Monday, May 5, 2008

Toasted Garlic

Garlic has a characteristic pungent, spicy flavor that mellows and sweetens considerably with cooking. When purchasing garlic, choose firm, plump bulbs with dry skins. Avoid soft or shriveled cloves as well as garlic stored in the refrigerated section of the produce department.

Store fresh garlic in an open container in a cool, dark place. Unbroken bulbs can be stored up to 8 weeks. Once broken from the bulb, individual cloves will keep 3-10 days.

Here is a garlic bulb. Sorry for the fuzzy picture. Apparently I focused on the cutting board...but you get the idea of what garlic looks like, right?

If you break away the outer protective skin, you will find that the bulb is divided into numerous sections, called cloves.

Break the cloves out of the skin. Discard any of the papery skin, this part is not considered palatable. Although there is another layer of skin on the garlic clove, you do not need to further peel at this point.

There are several methods to toasting garlic, but the easiest to me is to simply place the garlic cloves in a small skillet over medium heat. Shake the pan occasionally, until the cloves are fragrant and the color of the cloves deepens slightly, about 8 minutes. No oil. No salt. No nothin'.

It appears that I burned the outer skin on the cloves, but don't worry if this happens. We still need to peel a layer of skin off the clove, and in doing so, the majority of the burned looking portions will be removed.
After toasting, the remaining skins should be very easy to remove. Gently squeeze one end of the clove, and the garlic should slide out the other end. If squeezing does not release the clove, take a knife and make a short slit on one end. The clove will definitely come out then!
Your garlic is toasted! From here, you may be asked to slice and/or mash.

To mash, place sliced garlic between the side of your knife and the cutting board to form a thick and apply firm pressure. Repeat until you obtain a chunky paste consistency.

From here, your recipe should give you more instructions. Enjoy!

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