April is officially garlic month. And why should we care? … California is the nation’s top producer of garlic, that’s why! Also, this month is the famous Gilroy Garlic Festival on April 19, located in the heart of garlic country here in CA.
California produces over 90% of commercial garlic grown in the United States. Gilroy – considered the Garlic capital of the world, is home to the top grower in California, Christopher Ranch, which also is the largest grower in the nation producing over 50% of our garlic crops. The Christopher family started farming the Gilroy area when they arrived from Denmark in the 1890s.
Another prominent garlic producer is The Garlic Company. Strategically located in California’s San Joaquin Valley (that is well known for not only a warm Mediterranean climate, but also rich, fertile soil), The Garlic Company is ideally situated for growing garlic.
How to pick local CA garlic
Recognizing California garlic is easy – always check the label and most often you will see that CA garlic has the roots intact on the bottom.
Why CA garlic?
Safety and Quality – CA grown garlic is traceable and meets the highest quality and safety standards in the world – including pesticide use, third party audits, and kosher and nonGMO options.
- The two most prevalent varieties grown commercially are California Early and California Late.
- Dehydrated garlic accounts for roughly 75% of U.S. garlic consumption.
- Per capita consumption in 2010 estimates was 2.3 pounds.
- The leading importers of garlic into the United States are China, Mexico, and Argentina.
- China ships 75% of total U.S. garlic imports.
Garlic and Health
- Eating a small amount of garlic daily is often recommended as a preventive action against cardiovascular problems.
- Regular garlic consumption is claimed to reduce cholesterol and reduce blood pressure.
- Garlic has been attributed to assisting in fighting asthma, atherosclerosis, diabetes, hypertension, and hypoglycemia.
- Garlic is known to be antibacterial and antifungal.
- Some doctors insist the consumption of garlic lowers bad cholesterol and breaks down blood clots.
- Before vaccines were developed against polio, garlic was used to prevent the disease.
- Freshly cut cloves of garlic or garlic powder may be beneficial as a topical antibiotic.
- Allicin, the active ingredient in garlic, has an effect similar to penicillin.
- From movies we also know that garlic wards off vampires – so always keep some around!In other words… garlic tastes fantastic and has apparently many other benefits!
Tid Bits about Garlic (from Christopher Ranch)
When buying garlic, look (and feel!) for bulbs that are plump and firm with the papery outer skin intact. Avoid garlic that is soft, shriveled, moldy, sprouting, or light in weight.
To store garlic bulbs, keep in a cool, dry, preferably dark, well-ventilated place. Do not store in a plastic bag. Garlic needs air circulation, so store in an open container, basket, net bag or open cardboard box. A small wicker basket is ideal for storing garlic conveniently on a kitchen counter as long as it’s not near heat or moisture (like the oven or sink), or in the sun.
Fresh garlic bulbs will last from 2 to 6 months (more or less) from our July harvest if stored properly, and whole bulbs will store longer than individual cloves. Braids may last longer because they are usually hung on the wall and the air can circulate around them.
To peel garlic, the easiest way is to flatten a clove with the large, flat side of a knife and remove the skin. To keep the cloves intact, pour hot water over them for a few seconds. This will loosen the skin and allow it to be pulled off easily with a paring knife. Other methods: soak cloves in cool water for a half hour before peeling or put in the microwave for about 5 seconds.
To store braids, hang in a cool, dry area away from heat, moisture and the sun. Cut a bulb from the top of the braid as needed. Braids for decoration only will last indefinitely if not touched (the garlic inside the skins will slowly deteriorate over time but the braid will stay intact if not touched).