I’d long been taught that the germ of garlic released enzymes that changed the flavor of garlic. In Skills class at the CIA in 1996, my chef instructor said in the finest starred restaurants you’d find that the cooks removed the germ before mincing, but that for our purposes it was unnecessary. That same chef, 5 years later, now asked his class to always remove the germ because it did affect the flavor. Harold McGee discusses garlic and its science in his book.
I too noticed differences, not that the garlic was bitter, as some claim, only that if the garlic sat for a while before using it developed to me an off flavor. This blogger did a test finding that the flavor was different but not worse, in fact that the garlic with the germ tasted more garlicky.
The way I handle the germ is simple. If I’m prepping the garlic ahead of time, I remove the germ first. If the garlic is going straight into the heat, I don’t.
I asked friend Emilia to look into it and the research on the germ itself is inconclusive, but not on how the power of garlic works. I’d love to hear what other folks convictions are on the garlic germ.
by Emilia Juocys
Facts about garlic:
- Garlic is a member of the allium family, whose other members include onions, leeks, shallots, green onions, ramps, scallions, etc.
- It originated from Central Asia north of Afghanistan.
- 12 million metric tonnes of garlic are produced globally a year.
- China is the world’s leading producer, exporter and consumer of garlic.
- Is key component in Asian, Mediterranean, North African, Middle Eastern, South and Central American cuisine.
Books about garlic and onions
If you liked this post on garlic germ, check out these other posts:
- Recipe for garlic soup from the Smitten Kitchen
- James Beard Foundation shares the classic Provencal dish Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic
- Todd & Diane from White On Rice Couple share their Garlic Noodle with butter recipe
- My garlic post from this past summer: The Best Garlic
© 2011 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2011 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved.