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All About Garlic
Garlic, A Useful and Magical Herb
Garlic - where would we be without it? It has magical properties, it's a great ingredient for use in cooking, and it also has healing properties.
What else can we expect from a herb? Plenty, from what I've discovered about garlic.
I've tried to collect some uses and trivia about garlic from ancient times until now. There won't be much here about garlic's use in cooking, as I've concentrated on the more unusual uses. There's so much more to discover about this great herb......
A Few Garlic Facts
The Latin name for garlic is Allium, but this name covers all members of the onion family, such as leeks, shallots, and chives. The common edible garlic is known as Allium sativum, although there are many other varieties. It is a member of the lily family. As lilies are dangerous to cats, garlic is most likely to make them very ill also.
Garlic originated in Asia, and was apparently grown by the ancient Egyptians, and it was known in China approximately 4000 years ago.
It contains many micro-nutrients, Vitamins B6 and B1, amongst others. Garlic is reputed to help cure cancer, and has been used as a remedy for colds and flu. If I feel a cold coming on, I eat a cheese and garlic sandwich! Garlic has also been used as a vermicide. (It kills intestinal worms)
Best of all, in my opinion, it tastes great! Who would want to be without it?
Everything you ever wanted to know about garlic.
Garlic In The Kitchen
I don't know about you, but I can't be without garlic of some kind in my kitchen, whether it's dried or fresh. It's so useful in so many types of meal, and is a necessity in some!
Garlic and lemon go well together, especially with white fish, at least in my cooking!
A casserole or stew just wouldn't taste right without at least a pinch of garlic in them. I tend to throw in a lot, and onions as well.
One of my favourite dips is hummus, which, of course, contains quite a lot of garlic. I've been known to eat a dish of it on its own. Perhaps because of the garlic in hummus........
Some people can't stand the taste of this herb, and if you eat too much of it, then you might just start to smell like it. That's a big drawback. Eating parsley is supposed to sweeten one's breath after eating garlic, but I'm not convinced of that at all.
Of course, when one has been known to eat raw cloves of garlic and find them to be sweet, one may have to be known as a "garlicaholic"!
A Korean Legend
This story is paraphrased from several sources:
"According to a Korean folktale from a few thousand years ago, the nation was created by the Gods and animals.
A tiger and a bear prayed to the God Hwanung, because they wanted to become human. The God gave them a bunch of the herb mugwort, and twenty cloves of garlic, and told them to eat these herbs only for 100 days.
They were also to remain in darkness in a cave for this time.
The tiger left after 20 days, but the bear stayed for 100 days, and then became a woman. After some time, as women do, she wanted to have a baby, but there was no-one to marry her. Sadly, she stayed praying under the shade of a holy tree for some days.
Eventually, the God Hwanung ran away with her, and they had a son. This son, Dangun, is reputed to have started the Joseon kingdom, and from this, the nation of Korea was born."
I really like this legend, but I do wonder what happened to the tiger?
Why was he so impatient? Cats are usually lazy animals who like to lie around! What would Korea be like today if the tiger had stayed and lived on the garlic and mugwort for 100 days?
So much information about garlic .....
Garlic As Protection
Although I can't guarantee the efficacy of any of the following uses of garlic for protection, they are interesting. :-)
Garlic can protect you from:
- Evil Spirits
- Negative Energy
Do you know any other dangers that garlic can protect you from?
One thing it doesn't protect you from is that bad breath you can get after eating garlic. It's fine for yourself, but other people may not be very happy about it - unless they've also been eating garlic themselves, of course. :-)
Garlic In Magic
Garlic is a very useful magical tool, and is often used in protection spells.
- Gender: Masculine
- Deity: Hecate
- Planet: Mars
- Element: Fire
- Powers: Protection, Exorcism, Healing
Garlic was often eaten on Hecate's festival days, and could be left at any crossroads as a sacrifice to her.
When the plague was striking Europe, garlic was often worn to guard against it.
Sailors have been known to carry garlic on board ship, as it is reputed to protect against the vessel being wrecked.
Mountaineers used to wear garlic as a protection against bad weather while climbing.
Garlic can shield you from the blows of your enemies, and can also help drive away monsters.
As you can see, garlic is a very useful magical herb, and should be grown in every witches' garden!
Photo Credit : By Leon Brooks [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Do You Like Garlic?
Garlic In Medicine
Here are some of the ancient medicinal uses for garlic:
- In Egypt, the builders of the pyramids were given garlic with their food, as an aid to their strength.
- The Egyptians considered garlic to be a sacred herb, and it has been found in the tombs of the Pharaohs.
- Garlic is thought to be anti-bacterial.
- Chinese herbal medicine used garlic as a cure for dysentery over 4000 years ago.
- Garlic and lemon juice together are thought to help reduce cholesterol.
- Soldiers were known to eat garlic before battle - perhaps they thought it would protect them from wounds.
- Hippocrates is reputed to have cured cancers with garlic.
Whether or not these medicinal uses worked or not, there is certainly a lot of history surrounding garlic. Research is currently being undertaken by reputable organisations into the use of garlic as a cure for certain types of cancer.
There is also research into whether garlic can help reduce blood pressure, and if it can help improve liver function and reduce cholesterol.
If these researches have a positive result, many of the old beliefs and folk medicines will be vindicated. I'd really like to see this!
Natural remedies using garlic
Bits & Pieces About Garlic
Did you know that there is a phobia about garlic? I didn't, but fear of garlic is called Alliumphobia.
There's also a word for lovers of garlic "Garlicophile" - I think I'd be one of those!
There are quite a lot of garlic festivals in the USA, and internationally. In Sweden, there is even a restaurant which serves garlic cheesecake! I'm not sure if I'd like that or not, even though I do love garlic.
The US has a national garlic day, on April 19th. There is a UK garlic festival held in Newchurch on the Isle of Wight, which celebrates the locally grown pungent garlic. Canada has several festivals dedicated to this herb.
How I Use Garlic
One of my favourite uses for garlic is to spread it crushed on a cheese sandwich. It's something I always have when I feel a cold coming on - seems to help, and even if it's the placebo effect, it's still yummy !
Another way I love garlic is with zucchini. Melt some butter in a frying pan, and add mashed garlic to taste. Slice the zucchini, and when the butter is hot enough, cook it on both sides until it's soft, and just going brown. Remove the zucchini from the pan, and use the butter that's left to brown a piece of bread on both sides. Put the zucchini on the bread, and enjoy!
Warning: This is full of calories, but it's another snack which tastes great!
Of course, every casserole or stew which I make has to have at least a taste of garlic in it -a meal just wouldn't be the same without it. Fish with lemon juice and garlic is another favourite.
Grow Your Own Garlic
Garlic is very easy to grow, and you can grow it in pots if you live in an apartment.
First you need to prepare your soil, as this plant likes compost. It also likes full sun, and the best time to plant it is in Autumn. Use good quality potting mix if you are growing it in a pot. Keep the soil moist, but not wet.
You can grow garlic from seeds, or from cloves. From seed is probably better, as these plants will most likely be stronger, and freer from inherited diseases. You will see growth from about six to seven days after planting, although it could take a lot longer. The plants should be ready for harvesting in the following Summer, when you see the stems turning yellow.
Good luck with growing your garlic!