All about garlic: What effect does it have on human health, why (not) eat it raw and what is black garlic?

Garlic is known mainly in the kitchen due to its intense taste.

However, it offers much more than just a pungent aroma, it has long been a part of medicine – from ancient to modern.

Did you know that it can treat heavy metal poisoning much more effectively than current pharmaceutical drugs?

How to consume it correctly so that it is really beneficial to health and does not harm?

You will learn all this (and much more) in this comprehensive article.

Garlic as the dinner of the gods and other interesting facts

Garlic ( Allium sativum) is a bulb from the same genus as onions, leeks and chives. It is a perennial plant that is considered a vegetable in its entirety. Along with its cloves, the garlic bulb grows underground, covered in an inedible papery skin. Its sharp taste is caused by sulfur compounds that are released when the cloves are damaged, either by chopping, crushing, slicing or simply chewing. So they are a kind of defense mechanism of the onion.

Garlic has been used all over the world for millennia, it was probably already known to the inhabitants of Mesopotamia. It was commonly consumed in ancient Egypt, as evidenced by the very well-preserved garlic that was discovered in the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun.

It was similarly popular in Greece, where garlic was even presented to the goddess Hekate as a dinner gift. Hippocrates, the so-called father of medicine (see the Hippocratic Oath, which doctors take), described in his writings the healing effects of garlic on intestinal and kidney diseases.

Why is garlic treatment effective?

Garlic contains health-promoting nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, trace elements, amino acids and antioxidants. One small clove of garlic surpasses even blueberries, which are considered to be one of nature’s greatest sources of antioxidants.

The comparison table shows that ordinary garlic is really incredibly beneficial for humans. It is worth noting above all the fact that one single clove will provide the body with more calcium than half a cup of blueberries. In terms of the same weight (3 g), garlic offers a larger amount of absolutely all the nutrients that the human body needs for healthy functioning.

Raw garlic
100 g 1
Raw garlic
1 clove (3 g) 1
Raw blueberries
50 pcs (68 g) 2
Raw blueberries
2 pcs (3 g) 2
Calcium 181 mg 5.43 mg 4.08 mg 0.18 mg
Iron 1.7 mg 0.051 mg 0.19 mg 0.008 mg
Phosphorus 153 mg 4.59 mg 8.16 mg 0.36 mg
Potassium 401 mg 12 mg 52.4 mg 2.31 mg
Copper 0.299 mg 0.009 mg 0.039 mg 0.001 mg
Manganese 1.67 mg 0.05 mg 0.228 mg 0.01 mg
Vitamin C 31.2 mg 0.93 mg 6.6 mg 0.29 mg
Leucine 0.308 g 0.009 g 0.03 g 0.001 g
Arginine 0.634 g 0.019 g 0.025 g 0.001 g
Serine 0.19 g 0.006 g 0.15 g 0.006 g

The effect of garlic on the immune system

During the flu season, dietary supplements containing garlic have been confirmed to reduce the incidence of recurrent colds in an individual by up to 63%. The garlic sulfur compound allicin significantly strengthens the function of the immune system. The symptoms of a cold usually appear for 5 days, people consuming garlic in any form shorten this period by 70%, i.e. to 1.5 days 3 .

Garlic and blood pressure

Garlic also has unexpectedly good effects on reducing high blood pressure. Daily garlic juice has been shown to be as effective as commonly prescribed medications over a period of 24 weeks 4 . The success rate of garlic treatment has been around 92% in studies, so it is more than likely that medicines containing garlic powder will soon be included in the treatment of hypertension. The amount needed to effectively lower blood pressure is equivalent to four cloves a day 5 .

Protection against heavy metal poisoning

Garlic’s sulfur compounds significantly protect organs from heavy metal damage. In one study, garlic was more effective than the drugs that normally treat toxicity. For all factory workers, a daily dose of 12 cloves reduced blood lead levels by 19%. This also made the symptoms of poisoning disappear (high blood pressure, nausea, headache). Thus, garlic has proven to be clinically safer than chemical medications because it works without side effects 6 .

What happens when you eat raw garlic?

Only positive things! Raw garlic has all the medicinal effects described above and can be consumed in any quantity completely safely. However, this does not mean that boiled cloves are not beneficial to health. They are, but it is necessary to follow a few principles so that heat treatment does not destroy the medicinal substance.

  • After cutting, chopping, or pressing, let the garlic rest for at least three minutes before handling it further. The sulfur compounds take time to fully release.
  • During heat treatment, do not heat above 60 °C, higher temperatures degrade most of the beneficial substances. Therefore, add garlic at the very end, when the dish is almost ready.

When can garlic harm or everything in moderation

Garlic has been used since ancient times to treat skin problems. It has antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic and antimicrobial effects. For that reason, it is still used for the home treatment of acne. In these cases, however, it is necessary to proceed very carefully, with a low concentration of garlic juice. Improper and frequent application can cause serious skin burns, especially in children and adolescents.

Excessive consumption of garlic on an empty stomach

It is generally not recommended to consume garlic on an empty stomach, even in small quantities, let alone in large quantities. Sulfur compounds cause an unpleasant environment in the empty stomach, which subsequently causes heartburn, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea; in some individuals also esophageal reflux.

Garlic and animals

All Allium vegetables are toxic to animals. However, garlic is the most poisonous, specifically 5 times more than onions or leeks, to most animals including dogs, cats, horses, cattle, sheep, goats and birds 7 . Garlic poisoning causes damage to the digestive system and breakdown of red blood cells. This can lead to complete collapse and death. Although the toxic amount is relatively high for dogs (15 grams per 1 kilogram of body weight, i.e. 15 cloves of garlic for a 3 kg dog), it is dangerously less for horses (0.2 grams per 1 kilogram of total weight, i.e. 16 cloves for a 250 kg horse ).

Varieties of garlic

Garlic is considered to be the most diverse plant in the genus Allium . Although there are only two types of garlic, soft ( Allium sativum var. sativum ) and hard ( Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon) , there are many more subsequent subspecies, varieties and cultivars (estimated to be around 700).

Soft varieties
Varieties hard
the cloves are arranged randomly
in multiple rows
cloves are arranged around the center
only in one row
no central stem, only a soft “stem” has a hard central stem (stem)
long-term storage short-term storage
smaller onions larger onions
don’t bloom blooms (has a stick)
cloves are planted parsnips are sown and cloves are planted
less hot more fiery
10-20 cloves 6-9 cloves
soft skin hard shell

Soft garlic (non-stick)

Varieties of this garlic are one of the most widespread. They are easy to grow and, in addition, compared to hard garlic, they have a longer shelf life and can thus be stored for a long time (up to 1 year). For that reason, they are also commonly available in stores.

The bulbs of these varieties are smaller and contain several rows of cloves; especially the miniature ones that fill the gaps around the center. Soft garlic does not have a hard central stem, but only a soft stalk (similar to an onion).

The most common varieties of soft garlic: Artichoke garlic, Silver rose garlic

Artichoke and silver garlic on a black background

Hard garlic (clove)

As the name itself suggests, these varieties are more robust. This applies both to the cloves themselves, as well as the peel and especially the central stem. Hard garlic has a shorter shelf life, but it makes up for much larger onions. The cloves are arranged in them always and only in one row. Compared to the soft varieties, they have a more pronounced and pungent taste.

Hard garlic is also called clove. A stick is often mistaken for an onion with cloves in it. However, the club is the flower in which the pacibulae are formed. Soft varieties do not flower, hard varieties do.

Inflorescences and bulbs of hard garlic cloves

The most common varieties of hard garlic: Rocambole garlic, Porcelain garlic

Rocambole and porcelain garlic with and without skin

Bear garlic

Wild or wild garlic is not a type of garlic ( Allium sativum) , but a completely different bulbous plant ( Allium ursinum ). It comes from Europe, so it is not surprising that it is absolutely common in Czech forests, most often near streams.

All parts of the plant are edible, i.e. bulb, leaves, but also flowers. However, the most commonly processed leaves are those that have a mild garlic aroma. They are eaten both raw, chopped in salads, and also cooked, when they acquire a much sweeter taste, for example in soups or sauces. Commonly, wild garlic is also dried, crushed and used as a spice in place of other green herbs.

Recipes in which wild garlic plays a major role: wild garlic pesto , baked pasta with fresh herbs, wild garlic soup , savory wraps, puff pastry wraps and canapés, quiche, wild garlic spread

Why the name “bear”? As it is one of the first spring plants to appear in the forest already at the beginning of April, it is commonly enjoyed by brown bears immediately after waking up from hibernation.

Wild garlic leaves on a white background

Green garlic

Like spring onions, green garlic is an immature plant. It is most often harvested in the spring, when it does not have a developed bulb and is therefore almost straight. It adds a garlicky aroma to food, but is not significantly pungent (similar to wild garlic). It is commonly used in Asian cuisine, usually sautéed or grilled as a side dish or part of soups. Green garlic is also often used as a cheaper alternative to asparagus.

Which recipes include green garlic: pork with garlic in several variants, grilled green garlic, egg omelette with herbs, tempeh with vegetables and bulgur , Indian lentil dhal

Green garlic whole on a white background

How to recognize Czech garlic?

Garlic grown in the Czech Republic is always a stick. So you can recognize it by the hard stem in the middle of the onion. It also has, at first glance, much larger and more massive cloves and a multi-layered hard skin.

Garlic in the kitchen

Thanks to its unique taste, it is an irreplaceable raw material. It is considered one of the foundations of world cuisine – European, Asian, American, and African.

You can buy garlic in several variants. In addition to raw cloves, dried garlic powder, paste or oil are also commonly used in the kitchen. You can make it very easily at home, see the detailed procedure . Fish, meat, vegetables and pasta are popularly flavored with garlic oil.

How to quickly peel garlic?

  • Place the clove on a flat surface and then press/press it from above with the flat side of the knife. As soon as it becomes slightly crunchy under this pressure, it is enough to cut off the lower, hardest part of the skin. A clove will fall out of the remaining one quite by itself after being pressed between two fingers.
  • If you really need to peel a lot of garlic, cut off the bottom part (the hard part of the root) from all the cloves and put them in a sealable container. It can be a plastic bowl, a mason jar or even a glass that you can cover with a tea saucer instead of a lid. With the container filled, shake at a high speed (like a cocktail shaker) for about 30 seconds. The skin will loosen and fall off on its own from most cloves, the rest need to be shaken a little longer.

How to cut garlic?

Whatever you think of, fine or coarse, or completely pureed. A garlic press is usually used, which presses the cloves almost into a paste. Cloves can also be sliced or diced (similar to onions), finely grated on a grater or blended in a blender. Similarly, you can wipe the garlic and mash it with a fork or knife.

The more cloves you “damage”, the more burning compound they release. Grated, pressed, mashed or blended garlic is therefore sharper than sliced garlic.

Garlic in the main role – recipes

  • Who does not know the so-called garlic? It is even known around the world as Czech garlic soup. However, you may not know all its variants, because there are countless of them, both the version with potato, grits, egg, and also with cheese. Check out the best garlic recipes and try, for example, the creamy garlic soup, you can’t go wrong with it.

  • Any type of bread is spread with garlic, from slices of bread to toasts to baguettes. Most often, directly toasted toasts, which would probably not even be toasts without garlic. They are an integral part of several world dishes, for example the very popular steak tartare, also known as tartare .

  • Meat, fish, vegetables and garlic dip – a combination that simply works, whether you grill, bake or fry. These dips are usually based on white yogurt, so they are almost calorie-free. Worth mentioning is the Greek tzatziki sauce , which is, among other things, part of the original recipe for gyros.

  • An absolute classic of Czech celebrations and gatherings is garlic spread with cheese, which is served on sandwiches, sandwiches or toasts. In this respect, garlic is absolutely universal and tastes excellent in combination with ermine, edamame, cheddar, and also niva. If you are not fond of cheese, you can make lots of other and very tasty spreads from garlic. Get inspired by recipes for luxurious garlic spreads and try the one that interests you the most.

Black garlic – what is it and how to make it?

Attention, this is not roasted garlic, with which it is mistakenly confused. Black garlic is produced by heating at low temperatures for several weeks and is considered a true culinary delicacy. The good news is that you can easily make this unique treat at home!

The whole production process is really easy, but unusually long – it takes up to 1 month. It is also necessary to mention that the garlic will smell permanently during preparation. The space in which you will cook the garlic should be really well ventilated.

What you will need

You can prepare black garlic in a rice cooker without any effort. However, it must have a heating function – “Keep warm”. If you don’t know which of the devices offers this option, take a look at the large overview of rice cookers . You will then only need a few whole bulbs of garlic, optimally 8.

How to make black garlic, step by step

  1. Clean the garlic bulbs from dirt, for example with a toothbrush or dish sponge (coarse side). Always dry, never wet.
  2. Place the garlic in the rice cooker. You can put a paper towel under them (on the bottom of the cooking bowl), but it is not absolutely necessary.
  3. Close the lid, plug in the rice cooker and turn on the “Keep warm” heating function.
  4. Most devices automatically turn off after 12 hours, so you have to monitor this interval and turn it on all the time.
  5. For soft varieties, check doneness after about 2 weeks, for hard varieties after 4 weeks. If the garlic is not cooked enough, continue cooking.
  6. You can tell when black garlic is ready when it is soft, slightly sticky, but at the same time firm enough to slice.

The garlic hardens first, literally like a stone. It softens out of nowhere, within a day, usually at the end of 2 weeks of cooking.

Black garlic in a rice cooker recipe
source: ,

How to eat black garlic?

It has only a slightly pungent taste, rather sour and slightly sweet, similar to caramel soy sauce or balsamic vinegar. Mash the peeled black garlic into a paste, which you can spread on classic pastries, tortillas or burgers. You can also mix it into pasta, vegetable salads or rice. In restaurants, it is usually mixed into butter, which is then placed on steaks in slices.


Store whole black garlic bulbs, including the skin, in a sealable jar (jar). Best in a dark, dry and cool place, where it will last up to 5 months. If you store directly in the refrigerator, you will extend the shelf life up to 1 year.

What is roasted garlic?

Roasted garlic is similar to caramelized onions, perfect for garlic lovers. It can be mashed into a paste/cream and mixed into cream sauces, spreads, pasta or spread on baked goods. It has a specific pungent caramel taste and is usually liked even by garlic haters.

Roasted garlic recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Remove as much of the papery skin around the whole garlic cloves as possible. Keep those that are on individual cloves.
  3. From the top (from the “stem”) cut off 0.5 cm from each onion (thus all its cloves).
  4. Put a large enough foil on a baking sheet or baking tray. Then put the garlic cut side up, drizzle with olive oil and lightly salt.
  5. Cover carefully with the remaining foil and place in the oven.
  6. Bake for 35-45 minutes.
  7. The cloves are ready when they have a golden to brownish color.
  8. Leave the roasted garlic to cool. Then simply squeeze the individual cloves from the skins between two fingers.

Place the garlic cloves in a muffin tin so they don’t roll around, this will keep the oil evenly distributed over them.

Baked garlic in the oven recipe
source: ,

The smell of garlic not only from the mouth

Unlike onions, garlic can be smelled not only from the mouth, but even from sweat. When consumed in excess, stronger sulfur compounds are not broken down in the body. On the contrary, it will create a liquid that has a much stronger garlic smell and is indigestible. It thus passes into the blood and subsequently into the lungs and skin, where it is excreted from the body. The whole process takes several tens of hours, which is why you can smell garlic from your sweat even 2 days after consumption.

When to plant garlic, harvest and how to grow it

Garlic is a crop that is easy to grow, it can be grown easily all year round in domestic conditions. It is usually planted by individual cloves in autumn or spring, depending on when the harvest is desired. It is most commonly harvested in July, i.e. garlic planted in early spring.

How to grow garlic very easily at home, only with the help of plastic bottles?

Garlic Growing in Plastic Bottles සුදුලුණු - sudulunu wagawa grow onion

Fresh garlic cloves, which grow from cloves when grown at home, are used instead of chives aka chives, wild garlic or spring onions. That is, on bread and butter, in soups, spreads, dips, vegetable salads or potato chips.

How to store garlic

Garlic is generally stored in a cooler environment (cellar), however, even temperatures above 20 °C will not harm it in any way. It has the longest shelf life if it is loosely suspended on leaves (leaves) in an airy and dry space. Under ideal storage conditions, the garlic bulbs themselves can last for 3 months without damage, while with them up to 6 months.

Milan & Ondra

We are both fans of good food and enjoy cooking. On this website, we want to inspire you with traditional, but also less common recipes. We will be happy if you try our recipes and let us know how you liked them. Bon appetite! :)