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Grocery Store Garlic Quality


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Another vote for peeled garlic. What I buy is Christopher Ranch, grown in the US fwiw. Consistently good quality and very easy to use (all one needs to do is trim the ends). I like to freeze it, both because it holds indefinitely that way and is easier to mince with a chef's knife when thawed.

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On a related note, can anyone suggest a method for identifying flavorful garlic? The stuff from the supermarket is almost tasteless - roast it, and it's blander than Doritos - and most of the stuff at the farmers' market is either insanely expensive or unusually fiery.

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there are so many varieties it is hard to tell them apart just visually..

Hardneck garlic I like most rocambole varieties.. last year there was a great stand selling " Pink Music" rocambole. I was very sad when I ran out of the last of it in the fall. Rocambole varietes in general will have a pinkish or purplish striping or cast to the skins.

You almost never see softneck in grocery stores , but softneck varieties are the ones that are usually braided.

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In August, we have several garlic festivals. I buy braids of the stuff, different varieties and store it in a cool cupboard in the basement. It lasts quite well. In fact, I just used some tonight and there is still not a sign of any germ. in June or so I will see germ in it but by then the festivals are just around the corner and I make do. If I should happen to run out, I will buy American garlic. I stay away from the Chinese stuff.

This must be an Ottawa thing. I do exactly the same thing but I have to admit that by this time of the year, my garlic reserve is low so I use whatever I can find.

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Another vote for peeled garlic. What I buy is Christopher Ranch, grown in the US fwiw. Consistently good quality and very easy to use (all one needs to do is trim the ends)...

Bill Christopher, in an article written a few years ago, confessed to using Chinese garlic in those products using prepared garlic. He said that he could buy Chinese garlic cheaper than he could grow it himself. Here's the link.

 ... Shel


 

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Maybe three years ago the garlic here in Atlanta at the stores I frequent (Publix and Whole Foods) got so bad I started buying peeled cloves. It got better the next year, but the last few months it has taken a turn for the worse again. Probably 3/4 of the heads have some cloves I have to throw away. I think most is Mexican, South/Central American, and California. I have never bought heads of garlic at the asian market, I just assumed it was chinese (and I think the couple times I looked it was). I will have to check out the garlic at Super-H next time I go.

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+1 on the small purple-skinned garlic. I don't know where it comes from (is it Mexico?) but it's nearly always fresher, firmer and more flavorful than typical large supermarket garlic heads.

It's also what's sold in Chinatown, Thai groceries, Indian groceries and Mexican markets here. The only problem is that it can sometimes be sprouting, and since it usually comes in a set of 5 heads tightly packet in a long net bag, that can be hard to spot.

P.S. Produce in NYC is beyond terrible. It's the biggest obstacle to good eating and cooking here.

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Another vote for peeled garlic. What I buy is Christopher Ranch, grown in the US fwiw. Consistently good quality and very easy to use (all one needs to do is trim the ends)...

Bill Christopher, in an article written a few years ago, confessed to using Chinese garlic in those products using prepared garlic. He said that he could buy Chinese garlic cheaper than he could grow it himself. Here's the link.

What the article says is that "his company uses imports in some prepared products, such as sauces." I was talking about their peeled garlic, which the packaging states is grown in California. For that matter, what I care about is the quality, not the provenance. I only mentioned the latter because it had been raised by others.

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Heh. This is something I run into in Australia all the time, too. The supermarkets and grocers often stock imported garlic--usually from China, but sometimes from Spain and Mexico and South America too. Sometimes you'll find Australian garlic. It's perhaps even common for the imported stuff (and, sadly, sometimes even the local stuff) to be at least partly fucked. A clove or two. Sometimes the entire bulb. It's really, really, really, really, really, really, really annoying to buy a bulb with the intent of using the whole thing/most of it in a particular dish, only to find that you can't because the whole thing/most of it has gone to God.

I always carefully inspect the bulbs of garlic I buy in the shops and avoid, if possible, the little mesh sacks containing 3-5 bulbs (I tend to buy garlic and all other fresh ingredients at most a day before I want to use them) ... but still, sometimes I get burnt.

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  • 5 years later...

A mention by Porthos in the "prepping ahead" thread caused me to resurrect this old topic.

I don't much like prepping garlic either but it's the best alternative I've found so far.

i've been told that the jarred garlic is no match for fresh though I've never used it myself.

I also tried the bagged cleaned garlic cloves and didn't like them very much...I froze my big Costco bag and the cloves all stuck together and the texture suffers from the freezing.

For me, since I din't have to chop a whole lot for a family of four, for example, it just makes more sense for me to do it myself.

I have used my SlapChop for times when bigger quantities are needed and that actually works pretty well.

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, lindag said:

A mention by Porthos in the "prepping ahead" thread caused me to resurrect this old topic.

I don't much like prepping garlic either but it's the best alternative I've found so far.

i've been told that the jarred garlic is no match for fresh though I've never used it myself.

I also tried the bagged cleaned garlic cloves and didn't like them very much...I froze my big Costco bag and the cloves all stuck together and the texture suffers from the freezing.

For me, since I din't have to chop a whole lot for a family of four, for example, it just makes more sense for me to do it myself.

I have used my SlapChop for times when bigger quantities are needed and that actually works pretty well.

 

 

I prefer, in almost all applications, the taste of slow-cooked garlic over that of fresh. So I get the big bag of cloves and poach them in oil, then store them in a couple of quart plastic containers (that are dedicated, as one might imagine, to garlic!) in the fridge. Lasts me about three months. Plus I have great garlic infused olive oil.

 

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18 minutes ago, kayb said:

 

I prefer, in almost all applications, the taste of slow-cooked garlic over that of fresh. So I get the big bag of cloves and poach them in oil, then store them in a couple of quart plastic containers (that are dedicated, as one might imagine, to garlic!) in the fridge. Lasts me about three months. Plus I have great garlic infused olive oil.

 

 

Wow, I really like that idea and it's one I can do!!!

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38 minutes ago, lindag said:

 

Wow, I really like that idea and it's one I can do!!!

 

I just put it on the stove, cover with olive oil (I keep reusing the garlic oil I saved from last time), and poach on low or very close to it until they're soft. Cool, pour up, being sure they're covered in oil, and refrigerate. Scoop out however much you need, just bearing in mind it's milder than raw so you may need more.

 

Combine half and half with melted butter, mash the soft cloves completely, and brush on bread for the best garlic toast on the planet.

 

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I usually chop my own, but my "cheat" for rush jobs is the garlic paste in a squeeze tube, rather than the minced kind in the jar. I find the minced acquires a distinct off-taste (brand doesn't appear to matter, I've experienced several). The squeeze tube tastes much more like fresh, to my taste. YMMV.

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1 hour ago, chromedome said:

I usually chop my own, but my "cheat" for rush jobs is the garlic paste in a squeeze tube, rather than the minced kind in the jar. I find the minced acquires a distinct off-taste (brand doesn't appear to matter, I've experienced several). The squeeze tube tastes much more like fresh, to my taste. YMMV.

  Interesting. I've never tried it but I just might. 

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1 hour ago, blbst36 said:

I use freeze dried chopped garlic from Penzey's a lot.  It works for me.  If I remember, I just rehydrate with a little water before using.

 

I have some of that in my pantry but I never remember to use it!

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21 hours ago, kayb said:

 

I prefer, in almost all applications, the taste of slow-cooked garlic over that of fresh. So I get the big bag of cloves and poach them in oil, then store them in a couple of quart plastic containers (that are dedicated, as one might imagine, to garlic!) in the fridge. Lasts me about three months. Plus I have great garlic infused olive oil.

 

 

Please stop doing this. It may result in a delicious product, but there is nothing tasty about Botulism.

 

 

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20 hours ago, Dave the Cook said:

 

Please stop doing this. It may result in a delicious product, but there is nothing tasty about Botulism.

 

 

I thought that was only for raw garlic dropped in oil?  And not refrigerated? Update after reading: Yea, you can't store raw garlic in oil, in the fridge it is good only for a couple days.  Thanks for the info!  I actually had a cookbook where garlic oil was a recipe and they just dropped raw garlic in oil.  I threw it out after I saw that.  I wonder how many people ended up sick because of that O.o

@kayb - You could make it and store it in the freezer, though.

 

21 hours ago, lindag said:

 

I have some of that in my pantry but I never remember to use it!

Since I don't use fresh garlic fast enough, it is usually all I have when I cook. :)

Edited by blbst36 (log)
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For those following along, here's the nut graf (emphasis mine):

 

Quote

Peeled garlic cloves may be submerged in oil and stored in the freezer for several months or in the refrigerator for no more than 4 days . . . Garlic in oil mixtures stored at room temperature provide and ideal environment for Clostridium botulinum to grow and produce toxin . . . The same hazard exists for roasted garlic stored in oil. At least four outbreaks of botulism associated with garlic in oil mixtures have been reported in North America in the late 1980s and 1990s. Outbreaks in 1991 (California) and 1999 (Florida) were associated with garlic in oil prepared in the home.

 

Heat does not kill botulinum spores. So, whether raw or roasted: refrigerated, four days maximum. 

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Dave Scantland
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52 minutes ago, Dave the Cook said:

For those following along, here's the nut graf (emphasis mine):

 

 

Heat does not kill botulinum spores. So, whether raw or roasted: refrigerated, four days maximum. 

 

The toxins produced by the bacteria can be neutralized by proper heating even though the spores are heat resistant.  I would still follow that 4 day rule for something like garlic or other things under oil, but for peace of mind about home canned items , a thorough heating is still a good idea. 

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs270/en/

 

 

"Though spores of C. botulinum are heat-resistant, the toxin produced by bacteria growing out of the spores under anaerobic conditions is destroyed by boiling (for example, at internal temperature greater than 85 °C for 5 minutes or longer). Therefore, ready-to-eat foods in low oxygen-packaging are more frequently involved in cases of foodborne botulism."

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That means you'd have to heat the garlic oil to 85°C for five minutes, right? Heating the garlic itself prior to immersion is not enough -- it's not even relevant, since the problem is the toxins created by the spores, not the spores themselves.

Dave Scantland
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Eat more chicken skin.

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