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Fresh garlic may be creamy white or have a purplish-red case but whatever the color, it should be plump and firm, with its paperlike covering intact, not spongy, soft or shriveled.

How to store:

Fresh garlic keeps best in a cool dry place with plenty of ventilation. It should not be refrigerated unless you separate the cloves and immerse them in oil, either peeled or unpeeled. If the garlic is not peeled, the cloves will hold their firmness longer but peeling will be more difficult. Fresh garlic which is held in open-air storage for any length of time will lose some of its pungency and may even develop sprouts. The garlic is still usable but will be somewhat milder and more will be needed to achieve the same strength of flavor in a dish being prepared.

How to peel:

If you are peeling only a few cloves, simply press each clove against the cutting board with the flat side of a heavy kitchen knife or press between the thumb and forefinger to loosen the skin first. If your recipe calls for a larger quantity of garlic, drop the cloves in boiling water for just a minute and drain quickly. They will peel quite easily. You ca use the micro by cooking the cloves for 5 seconds or so to achieve the same effect.

Garlic flavored oil, vinegar or salt:

It is easy to flavor with garlic by adding peeled whole cloves of garlic to bottles of oil or vinegar for two or three days before using. To make garlic salt, just bury 3 peeled and pressed garlic cloves in half a cup of salt. Add fresh ground pepper and ground ginger to taste if you like. Let stand for a few days in a screw top jar. Remove garlic and use the salt as desired to flavor soups, meats, salads, etc.

Garlic butter:

Make logs of garlic butter and freeze them to have on hand to melt on broiled meats or to mix into fresh cooked vegetables or spread on bread. Just add mashed garlic cloves to suit your taste to sticks of butter (about 6 cloves fresh garlic per stick is recommended). If you wish, add a few herbs and salt lightly. Form into logs, wrap in plastic and freeze. Slice off as needed.

This page was written by Shirley Cline.

Shirley was a great inspiration when I first started working on the idea of creating a recipe and cooking web site. Not only did she encourage me but she also supplied a great many recipes and other pieces which are featured throughout the site. Her great achievement was to teach me to cook risotto over the internet!

Although I never had the chance to meet Shirley, or even talk to her, I regarded her as a good friend. It was with great sadness that I learnt that she passed away in Autumn 2004 and that there would be no more emails. I think she will be sadly missed by a lot of people like me to whom she gave such pleasure with the sharing or her recipes. The pleasure my children have had from her recipe for Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar and Mint - not to mention the fights for seconds - has been a joy to behold.