Almost every cuisine on our planet has found an important role for garlic. Europeans mince it raw and add it to salad dressings, or sauté it and use it to flavor their sauces. Asian cooks add it to to their stir-fries, Indian cooks to their curries, Hispanic cooks to meats and vegetables. And Americans have lately taken a fancy to roasting whole bulbs, and then spreading the garlic like a soft cheese on bread or crackers.
Garlic's good for you, too. Researchers believe that garlic can bolster the immune system, lower blood pressure and prevent heart disease, and some people believe that it can ward off vampires and insects. One downside is that raw or undercooked garlic tends to linger on the breath, though many people are more than willing to pay that price.
There are two main types of garlic; softneck and hardneck. It refers to the main stem being persistent in the bulb.
- Softneck garlics do not have the main stem in the bulb and are the type commonly sold in stores. They are milder and last longer. Softneck garlics include purple stripe, green garlic, Italian garlic, California garlic and others.
- Hardneck garlics have the main stem present in the bulb. They are stronger and do not store as well. Hardneck garlics include purple stripe, rocambole, porcelain, and others.