Garlic, one of the oldest known cultivated plants, has enjoyed a recent revival. Long known for its healing and medicinal qualities, it was eaten by Greek athletes as a stimulant before competitions and by soldiers before going into battle. Now, celebrated for both its culinary attributes as well as its medicinal uses (today it is believed to have antibiotic and antiviral effects that prevent and treat colds and flu), it is an indispensable ingredient in the kitchen. Pat Reppert, founder of the Shale Hill Farm & Herb Gardens and the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival in Saugerties, New York, joins Martha to discuss her passion for this ubiquitous and useful bulb.
There are nearly two hundred varieties of garlic, ranging in flavor from mellow to pungent, and sweet to bitter. Some are easy to peel; others have tiny cloves that are almost impossible to skin. The two primary types are soft neck and hard neck: Soft-neck garlic is the variety most widely available in supermarkets. Hard-neck garlic, known among chefs as gourmet garlic because it has a better flavor, is easier to peel and doesn't have small cloves at its center; it is also hardy to colder regions such as the northeastern United States.
Learn more about garlic in Pat Reppert's book, "Mad for Garlic".