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|Garlic is widely used around the world for its pungent flavor, as a
seasoning or condiment. It is a fundamental component in many or most
dishes of various regions including Eastern Asia, South Asia, South-East
Asia, the Middle-East, Northern Africa, Southern Europe, and parts of
South and Central America. The flavour varies in intensity and aroma
with cooking methods. It is often paired with onion, tomato, or ginger.
The parchment-like skin is much like the skin of an onion, and is
typically removed before using in raw or cooked form. An alternative is
to cut the top off the bulb, coat cloves of garlic by dribbling olive
oil (or other oil based seasoning) over them and roast them in the oven.
The garlic softens and can be extracted from the cloves by squeezing the
(root) end of the bulb or individually by squeezing one end of the
Oils are often flavored with garlic cloves. Commercially prepared oils are widely available, but when preparing garlic-infused oil at home, there is a risk of botulism if the product is not stored properly. To reduce this risk, the oil should be refrigerated and used within one week. Manufacturers add acids and/or other chemicals to eliminate the risk of botulism in their products.
In some cuisine, the young bulbs are pickled for 3–6 weeks in a mixture of sugar, salt and spices. In Eastern Europe the shoots are pickled and eaten as an appetizer.
Immature scapes are tender and edible. They are also known as 'garlic spears', 'stems', or 'tops'. Scapes generally have a milder taste than cloves. They are often used in stir frying or prepared like asparagus. Garlic leaves are a popular vegetable in many parts of Asia. The leaves are cut, cleaned and then stir-fried with eggs, meat, or vegetables.
Mixing garlic with eggs and olive oil produces aioli. Garlic, oil, and a chunky base produce skordalia. Blending garlic, almond, oil and soaked bread produces ajoblanco.
About 1/4 teaspoon of dried powdered garlic is equivalent to one fresh clove.
Known adverse effects of garlic include halitosis (non-bacterial), indigestion, nausea, emesis and diarrhea.
Garlic may interact with warfarin, antiplatelets, saquinavir, antihypertensives, Calcium channel blockers, hypoglycemic drugs, as well as other medications. Consult a health professional before taking a garlic supplement or consuming excessive amounts of garlic.
Garlic can thin the blood similar to the effect of aspirin.
Two outbreaks of botulism have been caused by consuming commercially produced garlic-in-oil preparations that were not properly preserved. It is especially important for home-preparation to use safe and tested food-preservation methods to retard bacterial growth, such as including sufficient salt or acidity and keeping the mixture refrigerated. It is recommended to not keep home-preparations for more than a week.
While culinary quantities are considered safe for consumption, very high quantities of garlic and garlic supplements have been linked with an increased risk of bleeding, particularly during pregnancy and after surgery and child birth. Some breastfeeding mothers have found their babies slow to feed and have noted a garlic odour coming from their baby when they have consumed garlic. The safety of garlic supplements had not been determined for children.
The side effects of long-term garlic supplementation, if any exist, are largely unknown and no FDA-approved study has been performed. However, garlic has been consumed for several thousand years without any adverse long-term effects, suggesting that modest quantities of garlic pose, at worst, minimal risks to normal individuals. Possible side effects include gastrointestinal discomfort, sweating, dizziness, allergic reactions, bleeding, and menstrual irregularities.
Some degree of liver toxicity has been demonstrated in rats, particularly in large quantities
There have been several reports of serious burns resulting from garlic being applied topically for various purposes, including naturopathic uses and acne treatment. On the basis of numerous reports of such burns, including burns to children, topical use of raw garlic, as well as insertion of raw garlic into body cavities is discouraged. In particular, topical application of raw garlic to young children is not advisable.
Garlic and onions may be toxic to cats and dogs.
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