Garlic: Bland Food’s Worst Enemy
If you’re looking to add some character to your dishes, garlic is definitely the way to do it! Although garlic is rarely consumed by itself or used as a main ingredient in cooked food, it never fails to create a lasting impression with its uniquely strong, pungent flavor.
Cooking with garlic is a centuries-old tradition found in many cuisines all over the world, particularly those in Asia and along the Mediterranean coast. Although green garlic is a spring crop, mature (dried) garlic can be found and used for culinary purposes all year round, which means cooking with garlic is not tied to a specific season.
What is garlic?
Is garlic a vegetable, spice or an herb? Botanically speaking, garlic is considered a vegetable. That is because it is made up of several edible parts: the bulb, the leaves and the flowers. People most frequently consume the bulb, made up of white cloves, and discard the rest of the plant. The only exception to this “norm” is spring garlic, where the entire plant is edible.
In the kitchen, however, garlic is often seen as an herb, due to its many flavoring uses. Whether it’s raw or cooked, whole, crushed or chopped, it manages to add a potent piquant flavor to any dish.
Garlic is part of the Allium family, which also includes onions, leeks, shallots, scallions, and chives. It grows underground in the shape of a white bulb at the end of a long green stalk. The white head can contain up to 20 cloves, which are covered in paper-like thin skin.
What flavor does garlic add to your dishes?
Just like other plants in the Allium family, garlic boasts a pungent, spicy flavor that’s simply unmistakable. Compared to chili peppers, for instance, the spiciness of garlic has an earthy undertone to it. The taste of garlic changes and becomes sweeter when heat is applied, so don’t be afraid to unlock its full potential by roasting, sautéing or even baking it before adding it to your dishes.
When is garlic in season?
The peak season for garlic is during the summer months (June – August). It is usually planted during the fall before the first frost and is ready to harvest by the following summer (as early as June or as late as August, depending on when it was planted).
Spring garlic, as its name implies, becomes available much earlier. By the beginning of spring, garlic stalks will start popping out of the ground. This young or green garlic is not yet fully mature, but it preserves some of the properties and flavor of its fully formed counterpart. Therefore, spring garlic is in season between March and May.
What are the best culinary uses for garlic?
Due to its intense flavor and versatility, there’s no shortage of culinary applications for garlic. It can be used to spice up otherwise bland dishes or enhance the existing flavors in others. No matter how it is prepared, the powerful pungent flavor and aroma of garlic will not go undetected in your dishes.
With the exception of desserts, garlic can play a huge role in every meal course you serve at your restaurant. For appetizers, you can never go wrong with a classic: Garlic Bread. The mixture of soft butter and freshly minced garlic laid on top of some lightly crisped French bread… there’s no way your guests won’t ask for seconds.
For the main course, you can play it safe and go for any of the hugely popular pasta – garlic pairings; there are dozens of ideas to choose from. But you can also integrate garlic into a chicken dish, like this mouth-watering Crunchy Garlic Chicken or this impressive French-inspired Garlic Chicken Casserole.
Last but definitely not least, think about all the flavor garlic can add to your dipping sauces. With that in mind, don’t miss out on the opportunity to prepare various garlic-based dips, and get really creative with your combos, like in this Mojito Garlic Dipping Sauce.
- The best way to unleash the full flavor and aroma of garlic is by mincing or crushing it.
- Garlic tends to burn easily, so don’t let it cook under high temperatures for longer than needed, as it will turn bitter.
Where can you find fresh garlic wholesale?
Considering its remarkably strong flavor and endless culinary uses, garlic should be an indispensable ingredient in your restaurant kitchen. To make sure you always have a steady supply of high-quality fresh garlic, your best course of action would be to purchase it in large quantities from a produce wholesaler.
Luckily, you can find fresh wholesale garlic right here at Riviera Produce. As a family-operated produce and specialty restaurant distributor with 30 years of experience in the industry, our mission is to provide top-quality ingredients from local and national farms to NYC’s Five Boroughs, Connecticut, and New Jersey. Check out our product selection and start filling your cart with farm-fresh produce for your culinary endeavors.