(Allium sativum) is a bulbous
perennial food plant of the family Alliaceae. The
word comes to us from Old English grlac, meaning "spear leek".
Because of its wide cultivation,
its origins are uncertain; it has been traced to both southwest Siberia and Sicily, where it grows wild. It
is related to onions and lilies. The domesticated garlic plant
does not produce seeds, but is grown from bulbs. These bulbs, whose segments
are usually called "cloves" by cooks, are the part of the plant most commonly
eaten, though some cooks also use the early spring shoots. These shoots are often
pickled in Russia and states of the Caucasus and eaten as an appetizer.
common error of beginning cooks is to misinterpret the word "clove" as meaning
the entire garlic bulb, rather than one of its segments, thereby wildly exaggerating
the amount of garlic in a recipe.)
is most often used as a seasoning or a condiment, and is believed to have some
medicinal value (http://www.garlic-central.com/garlic-health.html),
notably against hypertension. When crushed
or finely chopped it yields allicin, a powerful antibiotic
and anti-fungal compound. It also contains alliin,
ajoene, enzymes, vitamin B,
has long, narrow, flat, obscurely keeled leaves, a deciduous spathe, and a globose
umbel of whitish flowers, among which are small bulbils. The bulb has membranous
scales, in the axils of which are 10 or 12 cloves, or smaller bulbs. From these
new bulbs can be procured by planting out in late winter or early spring.
garlic bulb, showing indiviual cloves near an apple. A clove of garlic is also
known as a toe.
bulbs are best preserved hung in a dry place. If of fair size, four to six of
them weigh about 1 lb (0.5 kg). To prevent the plant from running to leaf, Pliny
(Nat. Hist. xix. 34) advised bending the stalk downward and covering with earth;
seeding, he observes, may be prevented by twisting the stalk. (By "seeding", he
mostly likely means the development of small, less potent bulbs.)
is cultivated in the same manner as the shallot. It is stated to have
been grown in England before the year 1548.
The percentage composition of the bulbs is given by E. Solly (Trans. Hon. Soc.
Loud., new ser., iii. p. 60) as water 84.09, organic matter 13.38, and inorganic
matter 1.53--that of the leaves being water 87.14, organic matter 11.27 and inorganic
bulb has a strong and characteristic odor and an acrid taste, and yields an offensively
smelling oil, essence of garlic, identical with allyl sulphide (C6H10S2).
This, when garlic has been eaten, is evolved by the excretory organs, the activity
of which it promotes. When eaten in quantity, garlic may be strongly evident in
the diner's sweat the following day. The well-known phenomenon of "garlic breath"
can be alleviated by eating fresh parsley
and this is included in many garlic recipes.
the earliest times garlic has been used as an article of diet. It formed part
of the food of the Israelites in Egypt (Numb. xi. 5) and of the labourers
employed by Cheops in the construction
of his pyramid. Garlic
is still grown in Egypt, where, however, the Syrian is the kind most esteemed
(see Rawlinson's Herodotus,
largely consumed by the ancient Greek and Roman
soldiers, sailors and rural classes (cf. Virg. Ed. ii. II), and, as Pliny tells
us (N.H. xix. 32), by the African peasantry. Galen eulogizes it as the "rustic's
theriac" (cure-all) (see F Adams's Paulus Aegineta, p. 99), and Alexander Neckam, a writer
of the 12th century (see Wright's
edition of his works, p. 473, 1863), recommends it as a palliative of the heat
of the sun in field labor.
people in places where the simoon is frequent," says Mountstuart Elphinstone
(An Account of the Kingdom of Caubul, p. 140, 1815), "eat garlic, and rub
their lips and noses with it, when they go out in the heat of the summer, to prevent
their suffering by the simoon." "O dura messorum ilia," exclaims Horace
(Epod. iii.), as he records his detestation of the popular esculent, to smell
of which was accounted a sign of vulgarity (cf. Shakespeare, Coriol.
iv. 6, and Meas. for Meas.
was rare in traditional English cuisine, and a
much more common ingredient in southern Europe. Garlic was placed by the ancient
Greeks on the piles of stones at cross-roads, as a supper for Hecate (Theophrastus, Characters,
l~.eunbcuuoviac); and according to Pliny garlic and onions
were invoked as deities by the Egyptians at the taking of oaths. The inhabitants
of Pelusium in lower Egypt, who worshipped the onion, are said to have held both
it and garlic in aversion as food. Garlic possesses stimulant and stomachic properties,
and was of old, as still sometimes now, employed as a medicinal remedy.
(N.H. xx. 23) gives an exceedingly long list of complaints in which it
was considered beneficial. Dr T Sydenham valued it as an application in confluent
smallpox, and, says Cullen (Mat.
Med. ii. p. 174, 1789), found some dropsies cured by it alone. Early
in the 20th century, it was sometimes used in the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis or phthisis.
the United States, Gilroy, California
promotes itself as "Garlic Capital of the World."
wild "crow garlic" and "field garlic" of Britain are the species Allium vineale
and A. oleraceum, respectively.
term "wild garlic" is now used to refer to ramsons (Allium ursinum). In
North America, "wild garlic" or "crow garlic" is (Allium vineale), and
along with "wild onion" (also known as "meadow garlic" or "wild garlic") (Allium
canada) are common weeds in fields.
article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopędia
is claimed by some to have many significant medicinal benefits, but there has
been no demonstration of the effects of garlic that meets commonly accepted scientific
cloves are used by aficionados for infections, especially chest problems, digestive
disorders, and fungal infections such as thrush. They are claimed to be
an effective long-term remedy for cardiovascular problems reducing excessive blood
cholesteral levels, atherosclerosis, the risk
of thrombosis, and hypertension
but these claims are disputed as there has been no clinical trial that has demonstrated
any such benefits. Garlic is also alleged to help regulate blood sugar levels,
and so can be helpful in late-onset diabetes, though people taking
insulin should not consume medicinal amounts of garlic without consulting a physician.
Best used fresh.
- Garlic is very "heating"
and can irritate the stomach.
culinary quantities are generally safe, do not take garlic in therapeutic doses
during pregnancy and lactation; it can cause digestive problems such as heartburn, and babies may
dislike the taste in breast milk.
strong aromatic compounds are excreted via the lungs and the skin; eating fresh
parsley may eliminate odor on the breath.
medicinal effects of taking garlic long-term are largely unknown, and no FDA approved
study has been performed.
Eclectic herbal information
American Dispensatory (http://www.ibiblio.org/herbmed/eclectic/kings/allium-sati.html)
@ Henriette's Herbal
- Mrs. Grieve's (http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/g/garlic06.html)
"A Modern Herbal" @ Botanical.com