Garlic is a bulb of a lily-like plant, belonging to the same family as onions, chives, leeks and scallions. It is similar in shape to an onion, but ridged. The bulb is compound, consisting of anything up to twenty segments, called 'cloves'. Usually there are about ten cloves to a bulb, packed side by side around a thin central core, separated by scaly membranes and enclosed by a brittle parchment-like skin. The flesh of the clove is ivorycoloured, and should be hard and firm though easily cut with a finger nail. The cloves should be tightly packed - loose cloves are a sign of deteriorating or inferior garlic. The skin is usually white, but may have a pale pink or purplish tinge. The peeled clove should be unblemished. Garlic is widely variable in size, some Continental bulbs are minute. Many varieties of garlic exist. In South East Asia a small variety with only four to six cloves grows and is similar to rocambole (Spanish garlic, A llium sativum ophioscorodon). A giant variety is grown in California. Garlic is best bought whole, but also available in the form of granules (minced), powder or garlic salt. Bouquet: Harsh, penetrating and lasting. The whole clove has no aroma.
Flavour: Sharp and acrid. The powerful oniony flavour can easily become overpowering if used to excess.
Hotness Scale (Raw): 4-5