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Ask A Foodie: O Garlic, Where Is Thy Sting?

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garlicQ: My family likes garlic, but sometimes the pungency of fresh garlic (in salads or in garlic butter) is too sharp for them. Is there a way to give them garlic but cut down on the sting?

A: I’m happy to hear you have a garlic-loving family. In time, they may do as a friend of mine does when he feels a cold coming on: He peels a half-dozen or more garlic cloves and chews them up whole. He adds peeled chunks of fresh ginger to this medicinal feast and swears it knocks out what ails him.

Of course, you don’t want to knock out friends and family with garlic breath, either. So, I will pass along a tip given to me recently: If you put peeled cloves of garlic in cold water in a saucepan, bring the water up just to a boil and let the cloves simmer for a couple of minutes, they will taste milder.  Cool them down and use as you would fresh garlic. Roast garlic has been another way to reduce pungency as well, leaving a buttery, slightly nutty garlic flavor.

Did you know you can “roast” garlic in the microwave? In “The Great Garlic Book,” author and garlic grower Chester Aaron offered this method, below (though he did say the oven-roasted method was his preference).  The book is packed with good information on garlic and many recipes as well.

To roast garlic in a microwave oven, trim stem ends of the garlic head to expose the tops of the cloves.  Use a 2-cup (non-metal) measuring cup for one head.  Pour in 1/4 cup chicken broth and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cover with microwave plastic wrap and cook at 100 percent power. Remove garlic from microwave and let stand, covered, in the cup for a few minutes.

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