Garlic Powder: Flavor Profile
If you ask any cook if they prefer fresh garlic or garlic powder, you’d probably hear fresh quite a bit. Yet, garlic powder plays a versatile role in the kitchen, serving as a flavorful seasoning for sauces, soups and salads.
Garlic powder has milder flavor compared to fresh garlic. It has the garlicy taste, with notes of sweet onion, but without the spicy, oniony bite. Garlic powder is made from dehydrated and finely ground garlic cloves, and therefore, it serves as a useful flavor enhancer, or in a pinch, as a substitute for fresh cloves.
Cooking with Garlic Powder
Garlic powder is a versatile seasoning that has many uses in the kitchen. Quality garlic powder delivers notes of spice and vegetable flavors; it’s not as easily detectable as fresh garlic, but it delivers a dose of umami and savory sweetness to any dish.
Most commonly, it’s used when a dish calls for garlic flavor, but not necessary the texture of minced or granulated. A few common uses include:
- Dry Rubs – For meats and veggies, garlic powder might be the better option. It more evenly coats whatever your cooking, and the flavor never overpowers. Garlic powder makes a great base for dry rubs.
- Soups and Stews – When garlic isn’t the star of a dish, rather a supporting ingredient, the powder is the way to go. In soups, garlic powder helps to enhance the depth of flavor, while giving off notes of oniony garlic taste.
- Baking – Garlic powder is a great substitute for fresh, if you’re worried you might burn the garlic. If you’re making garlic bread, a mix of olive oil and powder creates a flavorful spread – the perfect flavor without the fear of burnt garlic taste.
Although the exact origin of the garlic plant has never been pinpointed, many researchers believe the plant is native to Asia. The reason: Garlic grows there wildly, unlike anywhere else in the world. You can find garlic growing in the wild across the continent.
Yet, garlic is one of the world’s oldest crops. It was widely cultivated in ancient Egypt, and primarily served to laborers and used in traditional medicines. The Egyptians were the first to record its use in medicine – as early as 3500 B.C. Garlic cloves have been found on archaeological sites in ancient Greece and Rome, as well. In fact, the Romans popularized garlic in cooking. Roman sailors and soldiers regularly ate garlic and used it as a spice, and Pliny the Elder prescribed garlic for more than 20 conditions.
Garlic was brought to the Americas during the colonial period. Yet, in the U.S. it was primarily used for medicinal purposes for many years. It wasn’t until the 1800s that garlic began being used widely in cooking. Many believe the French were the first to popularize it. Many French chefs, at the dawn of the modern restaurant business, used garlic to add flavor to dishes and published their recipes in early cookbooks. Those books then were helpful in spreading its use throughout the world.
For a spice that’s so ubiquitous, garlic has only recently become a staple in the kitchen. Through the early 1900s, it wasn’t widely used in the U.S. In fact, it wasn’t until after World War II that it became a popular seasoning in the U.S.
Garlic is grown around the world, and it’s found in many different world cuisines. The plant is part of the Ameryllidacease family, along with leeks, shallots and onions. Garlic typically grows to about four feet in height, and some varietals produces flowers. Yet, it’s the rooted bulb of the plant that we’ve grown to love.
There are hundreds of varieties of garlic, but they’re most commonly split into two broad categories: Hardneck and softneck. Hardneck garlics have a stem that grows directly from the bulb, and as such, the bulbs tend to have fewer cloves. You’ll notice hardneck garlic in the grocery store, as the bulb still contains a trimmed portion of the stem.
Softneck garlics, on the other hand, do not have a central stem, and the bulb is completely intact. The majority of commercial grown garlic is of the softneck variety.
Today, China is the world’s largest producer of garlic. The country produces about 80 percent of the world’s garlic, and as such, the country has sway over the garlic market. If the Chinese garlic crop is damaged, prices can fluctuate around the world. Yet, many countries produce garlic commercially. The U.S., Egypt, Spain, Italy and Croatia are all major producers of the plant.
About Our Garlic Powder
Where does the best garlic come from? There’s plenty of debate on that subject. Some say, the best comes from Gilroy, CA. Others say it’s Asia. We have found the best consistency to come from Egypt, one of a fastest-growing producers of garlic in the world. Our growers in Egypt have been providing us with quality garlic reliably for many years.