Garlic (allium sativum) can be classified as a hardneck (those that produce a bulbil) or a softneck (those that don't generally produce a bulbil). A bulbil is a seed head produced by some varieties of garlic. Garlic varieties differ in the clove and bulb size, number of cloves per bulb, flavour, length of storage and ease of peeling.
How to store your garlic
- When you receive your garlic, please handle carefully. Garlic can bruise, which affects the length of storage.
- To prevent sprouting, store your garlic above 10C - do not store in the fridge, unless you wish to plant it as cold temperatures promote sprouting.
- Use the larger bulbs first as smaller bulbs generally store for longer periods.
- Optimum storage temperature is between 13 - 14C with humidity between 45 - 50C.
- Store below 20?C if possible, for maximum storage time.
- Store in a dry environment with plenty of air circulation.
Health Benefits of Garlic
Whilst many know that raw garlic helps strengthen the immune system, for the prevention and treatment of colds and flus, the full extent of the health benefits of garlic are lesser known. According to Ted Jordan Meredith (2008) the following are the proven health benefits of eating fresh, raw garlic:
- Can reduce the risk of various forms of cancer, including gastro intestinal cancers.
- Lowers high blood glucose.
- Inhibits the formation of free radicals, and supports the bodies' ability to scavenge for free radicals.
- Effective antibiotic on bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses, and is capable of suppressing the growth of some bacteria resistant to common antibitotics.
- Enhances the immune systems response by increasing Natural Killer (NK) cell activity which are a type of white blood cell that combats infection and disease, and by increasing the production of interleukins, which are essential in the immune system response.
The above effects only briefly discuss the whole range of benefits to the body that garlic provides. There is an enormous amount of research confirming the above health benefits, however Ted Jordan Meredith (2008), and many others warn of the informative materials that have been produced (i.e. research
studies and books) that are funded by garlic supplement manufacturers and as such some may present biased results in terms of the therapeutic effects of raw garlic versus tablet garlic and the actual potential health benefits of garlic itself. There are however good, accurate resources out there, and the information is available for those who wish to pursue it.
For more information we have found the following resources useful:
Meredith, T.J. (2008).The Complete Book of Garlic. Timber Press
Engeland, R.L. (1991). Growing Great Garlic. Filaree Productions
Sutherland, D. (2005, July 19). Fresher and Smellier. The Age.
Anderson, B. (2010). The Health Benefits of Garlic. This site has extensive information on the health benefits of garlic, going into detail on the chemistry of how garlic aids the body. We have found it very useful.
Why buy Australian Chemical-Free/Organic Garlic?
Garlic from supermarkets is often (but not always) imported from countries like China, Spain and the USA. Imported garlic has usually been treated numerous times with a number of different chemicals to prevent sprouting, increase shelf life, and fumigate against insects and plant matter on bulbs.
Whilst many varieties of garlic are naturally white, much of the supermarket garlic is bleached with chlorine (Sutherland, 2005).
Whilst garlic has a longer storage/shelf life than many other vegetables, garlic will naturally shoot after a period of dormancy and as such is often treated with growth inhibitors to prevent sprouting. This increases shelf life, however means that it cannot be planted for seed as it will not grow. Growth inhibitors not only artificially increase the length of the garlic season, but also meet the demands of consumers who desire perfect, unblemished bulbs (Berry, 2008). Sprouting garlic is not appealing to many, however is still perfectly good to eat, although has a milder flavor, as the cloves put energy into shooting.
Gamma radiation is used to sterilize food products, however Australian regulations does not allow gamma radiation treatment for food products. Imported food products treated with gamma radiation can still enter Australia (Berry, 2008). Experts can tell if garlic has been treated, however most people cannot, and irradiated garlic does not have the same health benefits that fresh untreated garlic has (Anderson, 2010). Irradiated garlic prevents the compounds in garlic that are beneficial from forming, and therefore has no health benefit (Anderson, 2010).
As far as we are aware all imported Garlic has been fumigated with methyl bromide by the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service upon entry into Australia, which acts as an insecticide and fungicide, thereby attempting to prevent the entry of foreign insects and diseases into our country. Lyn Berry (2008) states that "….if inhaled or absorbed through the skin, methyl bromide is toxic to both humans and animals causing chemical burns, kidney damage and damage to the central nervous system…." And garlic is treated with it. How can the quality of imported garlic remain high when it is exposed to such treatments? Our answer to this is BUY AUSTRALIAN!
Not only do we believe this treatment is harmful to human health, and detracts from the quality of the garlic, we believe farmers should be paid a reasonable amount for their product. For Chinese garlic to be sold in supermarkets for $6/kg after being carted halfway across the globe, how can consumers be sure the producer is being paid fairly? By buying direct from producers, consumers can be sure of product quality, the origin of produce and that they are supporting Australian businesses. Henry Bell, executive officer at the Australian Garlic Industry Association, in a report by David Sutherland (2005), points out that if you buy imported garlic, sometimes you are getting the previous year's crop. How can this garlic be of the same quality as fresh, chemical free/organically produced garlic? Once again, LET'S SUPPORT AUSTRALIAN BUSINESSES.
For more information please see:
Anderson, B. (2010). The Health Benefits of Garlic. http://www.gourmetgarlicgardens.com/health.htm
Berry, L. (2008, March 10). Conventionally Grown Garlic Contaminated with Chemicals. http://www.naturalnews.com/z002801_garlic_Australia_food.html
Sutherland, D. (2005, July 19). Fresher and Smellier. The Age. http://www.theage.com.au/news/epicure/fresher-and-smellier/2005/07/18/1121538895
The information contained in this site is for general interest only and is not medical advice. We endeavor to ensure the information on this site is accurate, however you, the reader, are responsible for your own decisions and their results regardless of anything on this site.