“Stop and smell the garlic. That’s all you have to do”. Thank you William Shatner, never have wiser words been spoken. Because yes, we should all stop and smell the fresh garlic, but no, we shouldn’t be the person who smells like garlic.
It’s undeniable – garlic is one of those amazing things that packs so much flavour into a tiny little clove. One bulb of garlic can elevate at least 8-10 dishes (unless you’re at my house, and it’s half a bulb per person, per meal). This powerful cousin of the onion is one of the key flavours in most Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine, with most of the worlds supply of it being grown in China and India. In fact, China produces 20,000,000 tonnes of garlic a year.
Garlic has some great health benefits that people often forget about. It’s a super at fighting against common colds, has been linked to reducing stomach cancer in some parts of South Korea, can improve your iron absorption to improve energy levels and carries a heavy does of prebiotics making your gut bacteria happy little soldiers. And maybe the reason we forget about these benefits is because of one pesky little side effect of eating garlic – garlic breath.
Garlic breath is caused by a sulfur compound found in garlic called Allyl Methyl Sulphide (what the?…). AMS can’t be broken down by the body, so the compound finds its way into the blood. From there it is sent to the lungs and sweat glands so your body can get rid of it through your breath and sweat. It takes almost twice as long to get rid of AMS compounds as it does to digest your dinner, hence why garlic breath can hit you the morning after a romantic date at the local Lebanese joint.
But don’t fret, because to every stinking rose there’s an antidote. And when it comes to keeping the garlic breath at bay (or possibly getting rid of it all together), eating these foods will help neutralize the stink:
- Fresh mint leaves. That’s why you often see it served by the twig with Vietnamese and Lebanese food.
- Raw apple. Perfect dessert for a dish laden with garlic.
- Lemon juice. Haven’t I already given you enough reasons to love lemons? Well here’s another.
- Green tea. Who even needed another excuse to have the tea du jour?
- Parsley. Whilst not quite as powerful as the other remedies, it’s ability to combat garlic breath is the reason why its traditionally sprinkled on garlic bread.
- Full fat milk. Apparently this is most effective when drank with garlic. So if you like a refreshing glass of milk with your falafel, then you’ll be stink-free.
Of course, if you’re trying to keep the vampires away, then ignore all my previous advice and eat the garlic to your hearts content.
And you know that feeling when you’ve cut heaps of garlic and your hands smell but you can’t wash that smell away no matter how much Aesop you use? There is a really easy fix for that – rub your hands on the stainless steel sink. Seriously, it works every single time.
Want some recipes that make garlic the hero but are dishes that you hadn’t thought of before? Well you’ve come to the right place…
Here’s some tips for making garlic you MVP in the kitchen:
- Look for a head of garlic that has the biggest cloves you can find. Don’t waste your time with small cloves as they’re harder to peel.
- If you keep them in a cool, dry room then these bundles of joy will last you at least a month.
- Don’t bother peeling with your fingers – crush it with the flat side of your knife first and watch the papery skin just fall off.
- When cooking with garlic, put it in once the onions, or other ingredients, are almost done. Garlic burns REALLY easily so doesn’t ever need to go in the pan first.
You now have my permission to use more garlic than you ever thought possible. And now that you know how to avoid that garlicky stank, Shatner’s word won’t really have much relevance anymore.
Do you have any other advice on how to avoid garlic breath? Let us know in the comments!