Why is garlic so spicy

Why is garlic so spicy? What are the ways to tone down its flavor?

Garlic is considered “The seasoning of the gods”. Its unique flavor, aroma, and versatile applications make it a mainstay in almost all cuisines and can even change the taste of any dish. Have you ever given it a thought that what makes garlic so spicy? What is the source of its pungent smell? How to tone it down in your dish?

If you have encountered these questions then you are absolutely welcomed here. Stay tuned and also get to know its nutritional benefits, how to cook with it, what mistakes you should avoid, and much more.

Are you ready to start this spicy tour? Fasten your belt and let us move on to the questions.

Why is garlic so spicy?

Garlic is spicy due to the presence of a large number of sulfur compounds. Fresh or crushed garlic yields sulfur-containing compounds such as allicin, ajoene, diallyl polysulfides, vinyldithiins, and S-allylcysteine.

The compound called Acillin is mainly responsible for the hot sensation of raw garlic and its sharp smell. When you crush a clove of garlic, the phytochemicals present in the plant’s cells are released, causing a sharp smell and hot taste.

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Garlic is a bulbous flowering plant that belongs to the genus called Allium. Like all other allium plants, such as the onion, shallot, leek, and chive, garlic also derives its flavor and sharp smell from the amount of sulfur present in it. The sulfur content in them again comes from their soil. The higher the sulfur content in the soil the more will be the pungent smell and hot taste. If the soil does not have any sulfur in them, the garlic produced from them will also be tasteless and pale.

Ways to tone down the spicy flavor of garlic

  • Cooking garlic can tone down its flavor

If you prefer a subtle taste of garlic in your food, cooking it can solve your issue. The more you cook the garlic, the more its spiciness fades away. This process happens quite fast. A slight tinge of its flavor remains but most of the raw smell goes away within 30 seconds of heating it. This is a piece of bad news for cooks who like the distinct flavor and aroma of garlic. Also, crushed garlic has a sharper taste than chopped garlic. Finely grinding it releases more enzymes that bring out its pungent smell and hot taste. So, if you want to mellow down its flavor, be sure to chop it and not crush it. Blanching the garlic can also tone down its strong flavor.

  • Adding cream to your food can tone down its spiciness

If you have already added loads of garlic to your food or you are not happy with its strong taste, then you can try adding some cream. You can choose whether to add heavy cream or sour cream depending on your dish. Be careful when you are adding sour cream to a warm or hot liquid, as it might disperse. Temper it before you add it to your dish. This technique is quite handy if you are making a stew with a lot of garlic in it, or if you are planning to make a garlic sauce.

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Health benefits of garlic

  • Including garlic in your diet can reduce cholesterol levels in your blood as well as your blood pressure, overall promoting good health of your heart.
  • The rich phytochemical content of garlic helps to lower the chances of cancer.
  • Garlic has natural antimicrobial and antibiotic properties, which can stop the growth of unwanted microorganisms in your body and protect you from falling sick. It also safeguards you from other infections.
  • Garlic is good for your skin. It can reduce swelling and inflammation due to acne. It should not be applied topically to your skin as it might lead to increased burning sensations or allergies.

Is raw garlic edible?

Raw garlic does not have a pleasant taste. It can be harmful to consume if you suffer from heartburn. Eating raw garlic can lead to an excessive burning sensation in your stomach, burping, gas formation in your stomach, and stomach pain. However, this happens only when the garlic has a very strong taste and smell. Otherwise, it causes a hot sensation on eating it and leads to bad breath.

Mistakes who should avoid while cooking with garlic

  • Garlic can burn really easily and chopping it into tiny pieces or crushing it can fasten the process. Burnt garlic can ruin the whole dish and it’s a big no-no. Don’t add garlic until you are halfway through the cooking or very soon before you add any liquid elements like oil or sauce.
  • When you are adding the garlic, make sure that the flame is low. High heat can easily burn the garlic. For safety, start off with low heat and increase it gradually to speed up the process.
  • You might often find sprouts of garlic coming out. While some people include them in their food, it is best to avoid them. They are not harmful but they don’t add any additional flavor or benefit to your dish as well.
  • If you are using garlic in its uncooked form, make sure to blanch it before adding it. By blanching it, you can tone down its intense, powerful taste.
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Try out these methods and avoid the aforesaid mistakes next time you cook with garlic.

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