Garlic is so common it’s easy to overlook. Garlic from your CSA or the farmers’ market will likely be more vibrant and fragrant and less bitter than that from the grocery store. Though in late winter in our region even our lovely CSA garlic gets a bit rubbery and starts sprouting–still good to use of course but just a different animal than earlier in the season. Garlic keeps well for many months in a dry environment in a paper or cloth bag.
I add fresh garlic to most dressings and sauces and use this mashing method so that the garlic incorporates evenly into the dressing.
Garlic (and onions) often signal the beginning of a sauce or soup or stir fry or curry. Their mellow sweetness is released with slow cooking. Heat can quickly turn garlic bitter so avoid burning. Fresh garlic can be added at the end of cooking time to add depth of flavor to a dish, or in a salad dressing or to plain mayonnaise to make a delicious aioli.
Garlic is closely related to onions, shallots, leeks and chives, all alliums. Garlic is a very good source of vitamin C and B6 and contains calcium, phosphorous and selenium. Garlic has antibiotic qualities, is known to lower blood pressure, and is thought to be a booster of the immune system.