Pungent and flavorful garlic is now at Michigan farmers markets

Garlic has been cultivated for thousands of years and is widely used for both its culinary and medicinal attributes. When selecting garlic look for bulbs that are completely dry and choose bulbs whose cloves are plump and firm.

Farmers markets across the state now have plentiful supplies of garlic. This late season vegetable is a favorite of culinary chefs and home cooks everywhere.

Garlic (Allium sativum L.), is a member of the onion family and has been cultivated for thousands of years and is widely used for both its culinary and medicinal attributes. When selecting garlic look for bulbs that are completely dry and choose bulbs whose cloves are plump and firm. It is best to avoid soft or crumbly cloves, spongy or shriveled cloves, and bulbs or cloves with green shoots (they are past their prime).

Garlic should be stored in either an uncovered or a loosely covered container in a cool, dark place away from exposure to heat and sunlight.

Remember to wash hands before and after handling fresh produce. To prevent cross-contamination, keep garlic away from raw meat and meat juices.

If you wish to preserve garlic follow these recommendations suggested by Michigan State University Extension. Drying is best for preserving garlic. Peel and finely chop garlic cloves. No other pretreatment is needed. Odor is pungent. The estimated drying time in a dehydrator is six to eight hours. Canning is not recommended for garlic. Garlic used in pickling may react to the iron, tin or aluminum in your cooking pot, water or water pipes, turning green or bluish green. Some garlic may naturally have more bluish pigment, which is even more evident after pickling. This discoloration is not a safety concern. If freezing garlic it tends to get strong and bitter when frozen.

Research performed by the National Center for Home Food Preservation confirmed that mixtures of garlic in oil stored at room temperature are at risk for the development of botulism. Therefore, garlic in oil should be made fresh and stored in the refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower for no more than seven days. It may be frozen for long-term storage — up to several months. Freeze garlic in oil in glass freezer jars or plastic freezer boxes, leaving a half inch headspace. Seal, label, date and freeze.

Enjoy this culinary delight, Garlic is a wonderful seasoning to add aroma, taste, and added nutrition to your dishes.

Michigan State University Extension encourages healthy eating, daily exercise, as well as community-based economic development. Farmers markets are a great way to meet all of these goals. Michigan Fresh supports farmers market consumers by providing fact sheets on how to select, store, cook, and preserve more than 80 Michigan-grown and -produced foods. To contact your local MSU Extension office, visit the website or call 1-888-678-3464.

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