I love garlic. This is an unpopular position to take on a first date, but a well-substantiated one to take when it comes to food-as-nutrition. As you may know, garlic has a whole host of health benefits (including the all important “Anti” benefits – antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, anticlotting and anticancer, which earned it the nickname the “Allicin Wonderland Drug”); but did you know that conventional ways of preparing garlic could destroy most of those wonderful properties? ‘Tis sad, but true. Due to the way allicin, the compound responsible for the aforementioned “Antis”, is formed, a wee bit of preparation is necessary to get the most from your cloves.
So today, I share one of my all-time favorite food hacks: once you have cut/diced/pressed/chopped your garlic, set it aside for ten minutes before adding it to heat. This allows the maximum amount of allicin to develop, ensuring you reap the many benefits this potent little plant offers.
Why the extra ten minutes? Well, as it happens, raw garlic does not contain the allicin itself- it contains two separate substances called alliin and alliinase that, in combination, form allicin. These are held in separate compartments within the garlic and do not mix until the clove is sliced, crushed or otherwise ruptured. The trick is that alliinase is heat-sensitive, meaning freshly cut garlic that is exposed to heat will not create allicin at all; studies have shown that as few as two minutes in a frying pan can effectively destroy the health benefits of garlic.
The final trick is remembering to do this- and if you occasionally struggle with coursing to a time-table (not that this ever happens to me…), I offer you my tried-and-true solution: start with the small ingredient prep (garlic, herbs, onions, anything that won’t suffer from sitting while you continue on), and lead with the garlic. Then it is as simple as setting it aside until you are ready for the next step.
As for the dreaded garlic-breath, the best solution I know is mutually assured destruction- as long as everyone at the table partakes, all is forgiven.
For more on the many benefits of garlic, check out: