Superstition and mythology

How to crush a garlic clove

The Red Garlic of Sulmona

Superstition and mythology

Garlic has been seen as a force for both good and evil. A Christian myth says that after Satan left the Garden of Eden, garlic arose in his left footprint, and onion in the right. Even in Europe, though, many cultures have turned to garlic as a protective force or white magic, perhaps because of its reputation as a powerful preventative medicine. Central European folk beliefs considered garlic a powerful ward against devils, werewolves, and vampires. To ward off vampires, garlic could be worn on one's person, hung in windows, or rubbed on chimneys and keyholes. 1

Vlad III the Impaler

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How to crush a garlic clove

There are numerous gadgets available for crushing garlic. Most of these work well and are fast and efficient ways to crush garlic. Their disadvantage is that they need cleaning. If you don't mind getting your hands messy then crushing garlic manually is easy and satisfying. All you need is a good knife and a little salt. This section will show you how to crush a garlic clove. When crushing garlic - as always - take extreme care with sharp knives.

First place a single - unpeeled - garlic clove flat on a chopping board. Now take a knife with a wide blade and place it flat over the clove. Press down strongly with the palm of your hand. Be careful not to touch the sharp part of the blade!

You will now find that the skin can easily be removed from the lightly crushed garlic clove. Having discarded the skin, grind a little salt on the board to soak up the garlic juices - you don't want to waste these (this isn't shown in the photos for clarity). Now roughly chop the garlic.

Place the knife flat again at one side of the chopped garlic. Starting at one end of the pile of chopped garlic, press down with the sharp edge of the knife. Move the knife a little further into the pile of chopped garlic and repeat. Keep doing this across the whole pile of garlic. The salt also helps here since it prevents the garlic from pinging off the board and across the kitchen! If necessary, repeat this process until the crushed garlic is the constituency you require. Scrape the crushed garlic pulp off of the board, being sure not to miss any of the garlic juices. That's it - how to crush garlic simply and quickly.

Important: Never store raw garlic in oil, at room temperature. Its sulphurous nature makes it a prime breeding ground for botulism (clostridium botulinum). Botulism is a nasty toxin that can result in major stomach illness sometimes leading to death. Garlic heads and cloves should also not be stored in your kitchen fridge. If garlic is refridgerated then it is likely to go soft and mouldy. The same problem is likely to occur if garlic is stored in a sealed plastic container. 2

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The Red Garlic of Sulmona

A unique variety of garlic, the “Red Garlic of Sulmona” was born and is grown exclusively in Italy, in Conca of Sulmona and in Valle Peligna (AQ), where it has been cultivated for centuries. It is famous for its’ characteristic red and purple tunic, which encompasses each individual clove. Because of its unrivalled peculiarity, it is the most treasured and appreciated variety of those produced in Italy.

Compared with the white and pink garlic, the “Red Garlic of Sulmona” has a larger head, is perfectly conformed and it is richer in essential oil as it has demonstrated from the particularly penetrating aroma and flavour. It also boasts a longer shelf life and is the only variety of garlic which produces a flower. The stem and flower, locally referred to as “sod”, is removed from the plant approximately one month prior to picking.

Additionally, the flower stem may be consumed fresh, preserved in oil or bittersweet, and has a softer flavour of garlic even though it maintains the same pharmacological and alimentary properties of the mother plant.

The Italian farm Azienda Agricola Ciavattone, near L'Aquila, products and sells this variety of garlic. This farm had a stand in Terra Madre 3, a world meeting of food communities, each committed to producing quality food in a responsible, sustainable way. The meeting had place in Turin, on 26-30 of October, 2006.

The ecotype “Red Garlic of Sulmona” has been registered to the National Ministerial Registry, with Decree of Registration since 03-28-1992.

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