Saturday, July 31, 2010

What is Granulated Garlic?

I have been meaning to research this topic for several weeks. But I was nervous. What if I turned up something negative? How would I do without my precious pungent powder?

I have always had GG in my cupboard. But before Thing 1 and 2 came along I didn't use it that much. I was previously a garlic snob. I chopped or mashed fresh garlic for everything I cooked at home. But after the first Thing came on board I had a hard time with it. Imagine me on 4 hours of sleep with a 6 week old nestled in a bouncy seat on the threshold of our 50 square foot Manhattan galley kitchen trying to recapture some of my former kitchen glory. Thing 1 would be screaming his little head off and what was I doing? Fiddling with a sticky mess of garlic and an enormous knife. When I finally felt the stress of needing to pick him up and cuddle him or nurse him, I had these sticky stinky hands, and then fumbling with my shirt and boobs? Yuk. That's enough to traumatize your baby into never eating garlic.

I had to totally relearn how to cook when I had children. I no longer had time to noodle over the noodles. I needed a way to get everything into a pot and get back to being a mommy. I think that's why I turned to processed food to begin with, because I had a fussy baby and I needed to eat. I didn't know how to quickly prep something and walk away to let it do it's thing. But granulated garlic solved at least one problem. In many recipes it has become my go to spice rather than dirtying up a cutting board, chef's knife and my hands. But what is it? GG is precisely the kind of mysterious food that we all too readily accept. It is not like there is a granulated garlic plant out there where farmers are harvesting little glass jars with shaker tops.

Granulated Garlic (not to be confused with Garlic Powder or Garlic Salt) is dried ground garlic. You might have already guessed that-but you can never assume anything these days!! Garlic is most plentiful in California in the summertime. Fresh Garlic does keep for a several months in cool cellars and probably the conventional garlic you buy in February at the grocery store was grown in California the previous summer. But, GG is a good way of preserving garlic for future use. Garlic has a lot of antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, but just like any plant, these benefits diminish with additional processing and length of time from harvest. So don't fool yourself, GG is not the best way to profit from the health benefits of garlic. But if it is taste in a pinch you are after, you might just have found a soulmate.

Garlic is first harvested and the paper removed. The cloves are then chopped, dried and ground. Some GG and Garlic Powders (garlic powder is simply GG that has been further ground into a powder that is as fine as flour, Garlic Salt is table salt with ground garlic added) have stabilizers and anticaking agents in them so that they will pour better. It is important to seek out a brand that does not include them. I purchase Fairway's store brand. But an amazing store in Evanston, IL is The Spice House. They will ship anything and they have a great house made GG (among hundreds of unbelievable dried spices and herbs and spice blends). I used to have family that lived down the street from their Evanston location. I was so sad when they moved out of Evanston, but they do ship.

GG takes about 20-30 minutes to fully rehydrate and realize it's flavor. So when I use it in a recipe I will add it and allow it time to bloom. I like to add GG to meatballs, but I let the meat rest before I cook them. It is the same with dressings and sauces.

I was so thrilled that my granulated garlic is simple and straight forward. Some folks may feel that the drying and grinding constitutes too much processing to be considered a whole food, and I get it, they are probably right. But once again for me it is about cost/ benefit. If my brand does not contain any funny additives and my source is a trusted purveyor, I say Granulated Garlic gets the green light. Whew! I was sweating this one.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the research! I gotta say I was anxious to read this -- MSG, stabilizers, HFCS, etc etc -- wondered what was added and shamed that I hadn't read the label (after also being a garlic snob and also relearning how to cook postbaby). Whew is right!