Two types of garlic are cultivated in Ontario – "hardneck", the most common, and "softneck" which grows less well in our soil and climate. So-called "elephant garlic" is not a garlic at all, but a relative of the leek.
Different varieties are grown, but there are no significant differences among them.
Studies are under way to determine any health-related properties that could positively affect concerns such as cholesterol levels and heart disease.
Garlic seems to have originated in Central Asia. It's often mentioned in ancient Muslim, Roman, Greek and Hebrew literature. Widely-known in most parts of the world, its acceptance in North America is quite recent.
Today its greatest appeal in Ontario is to people of European and Asian origin.
Buying and storing
Look for bulbs that are firm, plump, non-sprouted and unshrivelled. The paper-like sheath around each clove should be completely closed. Avoid those that feel spongy, show a powdery mould or smell musty.
Store in a dry, well-ventilated location. Check to make sure they remain clean, firm and dry.
Preparing and cooking
Garlic is usually peeled and finely chopped before using in a dish. Cooking mellows its flavour and subdues its bitterness and strong smell, so it's seldom eaten raw. It can be roasted whole in its papery covering.
It's a great flavouring for pizzas, pasta dishes, with chicken, beef, lamb, potatoes, tomatoes, vegetable stir-frys as well as with mayonnaise, bean salads, and on its own as the base for Spanish garlic soup.