GARLIC: Smooth and Mild Garlic Flavor Cubes

Note: Smooth and Mild Garlic Flavor Cubes used to be my favorite way to prepare garlic and keep it on hand. But since developing this recipe, I learned that, according to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s database About Herbs, Botanicals, and Other Products, “Preparation of garlic, such as heating, microwaving, or drying, can substantially reduce the allyl sulfur compounds (allicin and alliin). Crushed raw garlic is highest in these components..”

And , according to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), crushing OR chopping garlic is also a good way to maximize the bio-active healthy components of garlic. Also, AICR suggests that you wait 10-15 minutes after crushing or chopping the garlic so that the anti-cancer substances have a chance to become activated.  AICR video

So no longer make the Garlic Flavor Cubes because to do so requires heating… What do I do instead? I buy a big bag of garlic and put the cloves into the food processor fitted with the metal blade and then process until the garlic is finely chopped. Then I place a few sheets of wax paper over the bottom of a glass container and using a spatula I spread the finely chopped garlic in a thin layer on the wax paper. Over that layer of garlic, I place a more few sheets of wax paper and then I spread another layer of garlic on top of the wax paper. In this way, I make a “garlic layer cake.” Then I just cover the top layer of garlic with wax paper and pop the lid on the container and place it in the freezer. When the garlic is frozen, I lift each layer of garlic by the wax paper ends and break the garlic into pieces that I store in freezer bags in the freezer. This way I always have garlic on hand!

And if you still want to make some Smooth and Mild Garlic Flavor Cubes…here’s the recipe:

SMOOTH AND MILD GARLIC FLAVOR CUBES

This garlic paste is smooth and relatively mild – just like roasted garlic– and it’s perfect for adding to cooked or almost cooked dishes – without getting that garlic bite. I started making this garlic paste a few days ago after listening to the host of the NPR’s Splendid Table discuss garlic on her August 15 show.  Now I’m adding garlic paste to everything – well, almost everything!

Ingredients

2 large heads of garlic (not imported from China and preferably organic)

  • Monamifood “Why Garlic?” How does garlic help to prevent cancer?
  • The garlic from China that I’ve seen is incredibly white and seems to last forever. I don’t know what they do to it, but I imagine they must chemically treat it. So I try to avoid garlic that’s imported from China. Instead, when I buy either organic garlic or non-organic garlic that’s grown in the USA.
  • I found a nice little bag of fresh garlic at Trader Joe’s the other day — enough to make a few batches of this garlic paste.
  • Also, Costo sells a 3-pound bag of garlic grown in the USA.
  • Garlic, like so many fruits and vegetables is  harvested in the late summer, so it’s a great time to buy really fresh garlic and make lot of  this paste and put it away in your freezer.

Extra virgin olive oil

Water

Directions

To separate the cloves of garlic in one easy motion, place a head of garlic on a cutting board and smack the garlic with something smooth and heavy (such as a meat mallet or the flat bottom of a jar).

Next use your mallet or the back of the jar to gently smash any of the cloves that haven’t already been smashed by the blow that broke the cloves apart.

  • Why should you lightly smash each clove?  “Active molecules of garlic are released when a garlic clove is crushed and are much more easily assimilated if they are dissolved in a little oil.” (Anti-Cancer, page 122). In other words, to absorb the healthy stuff that’s in garlic, you should bruise/lightly smash/lightly crush the garlic and consume it with oil.
  • Lightly smashing each clove also makes the next step easier!

Peel the paper off of each lightly smashed garlic clove.

Please note: The directions immediately below were revised on 9-3-09 and 9-26-09  in order to suggest a procedure that would result in less splattering:

Cover the bottom of a medium-sized heavy sauté pan with slightly less than 1/4 inch of olive oil and 2 – 3 tablespoons of water. (Note: The purpose of the water is to prevent the garlic from burning and developing a bitter taste.)

Add the garlic, cover the pan, and heat over medium heat. (Note: The cover will keep you from getting splattered and let the garlic steam as well as saute.)

When the oil is warm, gently shake the pan back and forth over the burner to keep the garlic moving — just like you would if you were cooking popcorn the old fashioned way. Keep gently shaking the pan back and forth until the garlic turns LIGHT tan in color (like light carmel color).

You may find it necessary to add more water. If so, when you open the lid, carefully (with the opening facing AWAY from your face) add a little more water and close the lid immediately. Or just start with more than 2 tablespoons of water in the pan. Feel free to experiment — using more water if you think it will keep your garlic from sticking.

I like to stop heating and shaking the garlic when the garlic is mostly but not completely light tan in color.

  • Note: When garlic gets a brown in color it gets bitter. So don’t let your garlic get brown. If you are cooking a large batch of garlic (many times the amount given in this recipe,) then separate out the smaller and the larger cloves and cook them in two separate batches. That way you can cook the large cloves without letting the small cloves turn brown.

Remove the cover after about 2 minutes (with the lid opening pointing away from you face so as to protect your face from possible splattering) and check on the color of the garlic. When it has  turned light carmel in color on most sides, use a slotted spoon to remove the garlic to a plate; let the garlic sit on the plate to cool.

When the garlic and the oil it cooked in have cooled, add both to the work bowl of a small food processor; process until you have a smooth puree (your wonderful mild garlic paste).

Use a spatula to scrape the garlic paste out of the work bowl and into your glass storage container.

Store in the freezer (NOT in the refrigerator).

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UPDATE

I wrote to allexperts.com and specifically to the experts on food safety to ask about the safety of garlic in oil…because way back in my brain I remember learning that there might be some issues with botulism if the oil and garlic mixture wasn’t handled properly.  Here is the answer I received:

“I have read your blog and I think your process is safe to recommend to your readers. I do suggest that you make it very, very clear that the garlic paste should be frozen IMMEDIATELY and not refrigerated. The combination of the low-acid garlic in a no-air environment (by mixing with oil), and room-temperature storage can support the growth of C. botulinum.

For a research-based article on garlic that you may find interesting (and may want to share with your readers), please see: Garlic by Linda Harris.”

Carol C. Schlitt, MS, CFCS
Extension Educator, Nutrition and Wellness
University of Illinois Extension

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To freeze small portions of garlic paste to make great Garlic Paste Cubes, you can use a silicone mini muffin pan. Just place a tablespoon or so of the paste into each section of the muffin pan. (You don’t have to fill each muffin space up). Let it freeze overnight. Pop the frozen garlic paste discs or “cubes”  out of the muffin pan and freeze them in a freezer-type plastic bag.

If you don’t have a silicone mini muffin tin, follow the instructions given earlier for freezing cubes of pesto. But be sure to let the garlic paste cool completely before you scrape it into the lined muffin tin.

Uses for your garlic paste…

The uses for this garlic paste are endless! Here are some of the ways I have used it in the last couple of days:

  • added it to a chicken broth when making a chicken soup
  • spread it on toast and topped it with sliced tomatoes for a nice garlic-tomato bruschetta
  • added it to a pot of beans
  • added it to a pasta sauce I was making with the fresh tomatoes in our garden
  • used it in making salad dressing
  • topped hot veggies with it

I would love to hear your comments on how you have used it in your own cooking.

Enjoy and be healthy!

Leni

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