Why chopping garlic is important and how to store chopped garlic
Garlic, native to Central Asia, quickly spread to the Mediterranean and now is cultivated and widely used all around the world. As it’s one of the most popular seasonings, you will find yourself in need of garlic when cooking almost any dish.
One of the time saving tips in the kitchen is to pre-chop the garlics and store them. And when I need to use them, I will just take them out from the freezer and use a portion of them. Using chopped garlic saves time by eliminating peeling, saves your hands from smelling and your eyes from tearing.
One concern is how to store them to retain the flavor without losing the nutrition value.
Why chopping garlic is important
The latest scientific research tells us that slicing, chopping, mincing or pressing garlic before cooking will enhance its health-promoting properties. A sulfur-based compound called alliin and an enzyme called alliinase are separated in the Garlic’s cell structure when it is whole. Cutting garlic ruptures the cells and releases these elements, allowing them to come in contact and form a powerful new compound called alliicin, which not only adds to the number of garlic’s health-promoting benefits but is also the culprit behind its pungent aroma and gives Garlic its “bite.”
By chopping garlic more finely, more allicin may be produced. Pressing garlic or mincing it into a smooth paste will give you the strongest flavor and may also result in an increased amount of allicin.
So, the next time you chop, mince or press your garlic, you will know that the more pungent the smell, the better it probably is for your health.
Why you should let Garlic sit for 5-10 minutes
Some housewives believe that chopped garlic needs to be cooked immediately. The actual fact is garlic is best to sit for a minimum of 5 min to 10 mininutes to get the most health benefits from garlic after cutting and before eating or cooking. Waiting 5-10 minutes allows the health-promoting alliicin to form. If you do not let it sit, alliicin is never formed, so it is worth the wait.
How cooking affects the nutrients in Garlic
Heating garlic without letting it sit has been found to deactivate the enzyme that is responsible for the formation of alliicin. However, if you have allowed your Garlic to sit for 5-10 minutes, you can cook it on low or medium heat for a short period of time (up to 15 minutes) without destroying the alliicin. This is because letting it sit not only ensures the maximum synthesis of the alliicin, but also makes it more stable and resistant to the heat of cooking.
Research on garlic reinforces the validity of this practice. When crushed Garlic was heated, its ability to inhibit cancer development in animals was blocked; yet, when the researchers allowed the crushed Garlic to sit for 10 minutes before heating, its anticancer activity was preserved.
- 5-15 minutes — minimal loss of nutrients
- 15-30 minutes — moderate loss of nutrients
- 45+ minutes — substantial loss of nutrients
Garlic can be frozen in a number of ways:
- Chop the garlic, wrap it tightly in a plastic freezer bag or in plastic wrap, and freeze. To use, grate or break off the amount needed.
- Freeze the garlic unpeeled and remove cloves as needed.
- Peel the cloves and puree them with oil in a blender or food processor using 2 parts oil to 1 part garlic. The puree will stay soft enough in the freezer to scrape out parts to use in sautéing. Freeze this mixture immediately – do not store it at room temperature. The combination of the low-acid garlic, the exclusion of air (by mixing with oil), and room-temperature storage can support the growth of Clostridium botulinum.
Dry only fresh, firm garlic cloves with no bruises. To prepare, separate and peel the cloves. Cut in half lengthwise. No additional pre-drying treatment is necessary. Dry at 140 degrees for 2 hours, then reduce heat to 130 degrees until completely dry or crisp. If desired, garlic salt may be made from dried garlic. Powder dried garlic by processing in a blender or food processor until fine. Add 4 parts salt to 1 part garlic powder and blend 1 to 2 seconds. If blended longer, the salt will become too fine and cake together in clumps.
To re-hydrate, soak in a bowl of warm water for 15 minutes, drain and use as fresh.
Storing Garlic in Oil
Extreme care must be taken when preparing flavored oils with garlic or when storing garlic ain oil. Peeled garlic cloves may be submerged in oil and stored in the freezer for several months. Do not store garlic in oil at room temperature. Garlic-in-oil mixtures stored at room temperature provide perfect conditions for producing botulism toxin (low acidity, no free oxygen in the oil, and warm temperatures). The same hazard exists for roasted garlic stored in oil. At least three outbreaks of botulism associated with garlic-in-oil mixtures have been reported in North America.
Because of the rick of bolulism, I decided not to store my garlic using oil.