Red Bean Essentials: Garlic
Known for its nutritional, medicinal, and flavor benefits, garlic is a natural superfood that’s a part of culinary traditions around the world. Considered both an herb and a vegetable, garlic is part of the bulbus allium family and consists of a bulb and multiple cloves (often called a toe).
You can purchase garlic dried, jarred, or fresh, and use it in a multitude of different ways. Luckily, garlic is available all year round, but is freshest during the July – October months.
Garlic Packs A Flavor Punch
In both scent and flavor, garlic is easily recognized by the senses, and fresh garlic can add flavor to even the simplest of dishes. Utilized with beans, pasta and rice dishes, pizza, dips, spreads and more – garlic is an incredibly versatile ingredient that compliments many cooking styles.
Louisianians love strong flavor, so it’s no wonder this ingredient is a go-to essential for their beloved Louisiana-style Red Beans and more.
Cooking & Handling Raw Garlic
While simple, chopping or mincing garlic can be a sticky endeavor. Once the garlic has been removed from its casing, the release of sugars and oils can make it difficult to work with. The smell of garlic on your fingers can also linger for as long as a week! If you aren’t looking to wear a garlic scent, you can purchase a garlic press to cleanly and quickly mince garlic for recipes.
Garlic cooks very quickly, so it’s important to either add it when other ingredients are in the pot, or to start cooking it over low heat. Continuous stirring is also key, so that the garlic doesn’t burn. Burnt garlic produces a bitter scent and can leave a dish tasting less than delicious. So, do yourself a flavor favor and follow the above tips.
Storing Raw Garlic
Be sure to store any garlic in a dry and dark place, with a lot of air circulation. It’s recommended to store in a wire basket or mesh bag. It’s best to store garlic as an entire head, or bulb, because it lasts longer. Once you break a head of garlic, it immediately reduces the shelf life to just a few days. When intact, the head itself can stay fresh for many months under the right conditions.
If you have leftover fresh garlic, don’t fret! Bag it and store in the refrigerator, but be sure to use it as soon as possible to prevent it from sprouting and going bad.
Did you ever wonder why red beans and rice is often topped with parsley? Parsley is well known for taming the scent of most overly pungent flavors on the tongue, and often provides a nice visual accent to dishes. For red beans and rice, it’s no different. To help counteract the acidity of garlic and get fresher breath, chew on some parsley after a garlic-y meal.
Cooking with garlic has a long-standing history around the world, but its medicinal benefits are known across cultures, as well. In the 1500s across Western Europe, garlic was often utilized to combat infection and served as a cure for the plague or smallpox. It was even used as an insect repellant. Throughout the course of many wars, its antiseptic properties were relied upon to provide relief and treatment for ailments like dysentery.
Garlic is incredibly nutritious, fortified with many B vitamins as well as folate, Vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, and zinc. It’s proven to reduce cholesterol and is considered a cancer preventer when eaten raw daily.
It also doesn’t hurt that it can help fight a cold, and invigorates both hair and skin.
The most famous of all garlic folklore is its association with vampires. This was popularised in the West by Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula, but it has long been a repellant of “bad souls” across Eastern European and Egyptian cultures.
Why garlic? Because of its healing possibilities and ability to repel insects, it’s believed that garlic placed around the neck or around the room will repel a vampire.
Check out bean recipes with garlic.