Bulbs

Garlic

Garlic

How many times have we prepared or tasted the legendary spaghetti with oil, garlic and chilli? Many times, of course. But we often ignore what we put on our plates. In the recipe we have just mentioned, the prominent element is precisely garlic, which is not only a kitchen flavoring, but also a plant known all over the world and cultivated since ancient times. In fact, garlic is a perennial bulbous plant, native to southern Asia and belonging to the Liliaceae family. A recent classification includes it among the Allioideae family, probably a more correct classification. The garlic we use in the kitchen is the bulb of this plant. In reality, the cloves are used, called bulbili, or the parts that make up the bulb. Garlic is grown for food use, as flavored foods and for herbal uses. The ornamental uses of this plant are unknown and in any case attributed only to popular legends and traditions.

Features


Garlic, a bulbous plant of Asian origin, is botanically called Allium sativum L. Different varieties of garlic are known, but the best known and most used is precisely that sativum. The plant has a stem about eighty centimeters high and leaves that twist like a cylinder around it. The flowers are small, white, umbrella-like and almost never open. The root part of the plant is made up of the bulb that grows to a maximum depth of thirty centimeters. Generally the garlic bulb is placed in superficial layers of the soil and therefore you must be very careful in working the soil, to avoid damaging the roots. The bulb is made up of six to sixteen cloves, called bulbili or small bulbs, covered with a whitish or pink integument called a tunic. This coating derives from the fabric of the stem and performs a protective function of the bulbs. The tunic protects the garlic from the sun’s rays, but also from the attack of pathogens. The final part of the bulb is composed of about sixty filamentous roots that develop in the lower part of the bulb. Garlic does not produce seeds and its propagation occurs through bulbili, which can, in a certain sense, be considered the «seeds» of the plant.

Variety


As mentioned in the previous paragraph, there are several varieties of garlic. The best known and most cultivated is that sativum, but in nature there are also the varieties Allium vineale, Allium oreaceum, Allium ursinum and Allium fragrans. The varieties of garlic are also classified according to the color of the tunic that covers them. There are, in fact, varieties with a white tunic and varieties with a red tunic. The latter are very famous species in some Italian regions, while those with white tunic often come from China or Spain. Among the most well-known varieties of garlic are the white Piacenza, with the tunic of the same color, the red garlic from Sulmona, the serena variety, the white garlic from Vessalico, and the white ones from Naples and Calabria, and, finally, the Sicilian red garlic produced in Nubia, town in the province of Trapani. Varieties with a red tunic are often sold fresh, that is, when the bulb is not fully ripe. This is due to the fact that these varieties have a shorter vegetative cycle, compared to white garlic, and very large bulbs that do not lend themselves to a long shelf life.

Property


The strong and pungent smell of garlic comes from a substance contained in the bulb, allicin, a compound derived from sulfur. This substance is released only when the bulb is open, broken and cut to be used as a condiment. The substance interacts with enzymes, giving life to a compound that is not very soluble in water, but can be eliminated by cooking. Allicin also appears to have antibiotic properties. But it is all garlic that is considered a plant with medicinal properties. This bulb is recognized with antihypertensive, antioxidant effects, due to the presence of vitamins and minerals, but also antrithrombotic and anticancer effects. Garlic is also used to fight colds, flus and intestinal worms. Consumed raw it not only aromatizes foods, but prevents excess cholesterol. Garlic also has diuretic and digestive properties and can be consumed in the form of an infusion. The decoction of garlic, on the other hand, seems to have antiseptic effects. Of course, also for garlic, as for all other herbs, the concept of not attributing miraculous properties to it applies, especially in the presence of serious diseases. What is certain is that a healthy diet can be an excellent solution to prevent the onset of diseases. The downside of eating garlic is that it “weighs down” the breath. To prevent the smell of garlic from remaining too long in the mouth, you can try, before consumption, to detach a small green sprout from the bulb that is inside. as for all other herbs, the concept of not attributing miraculous properties to it applies, especially in the presence of serious pathologies. What is certain is that a healthy diet can be an excellent solution to prevent the onset of diseases. The downside of eating garlic is that it “weighs down” the breath. To prevent the smell of garlic from remaining too long in the mouth, you can try, before consumption, to detach a small green sprout from the bulb that is inside. as for all other herbs, the concept of not attributing miraculous properties to it applies, especially in the presence of serious pathologies. What is certain is that a healthy diet can be an excellent solution to prevent the onset of diseases. The downside of eating garlic is that it “weighs down” the breath. To prevent the smell of garlic from remaining too long in the mouth, you can try, before consumption, to detach a small green sprout from the bulb that is inside.

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