Global Food Myths #14: Is the garlic stalk to blame for bad breath?

Alois Strobl, Global Food Myths #14, Garlic

LSG Group experts clarify food myths from around the world – Episode 14 is about garlic and bad breath.

Garlic: a must in Mediterranean cuisine, but quite possibly a grave mistake when consumed before a business meeting or a romantic rendezvous. The bad breath caused by these cloves when used as a spice or ingredient is unmistakable and persistent. Can it be avoided by removing the stalk in the middle before preparation? Alois Strobl, Director Culinary Excellence at LSG Group, explains.

“There is no clear answer to this question, but removing the middle section doesn’t completely eliminate the smell,” says Strobl. The unpleasant consequences are caused by the sulfur compound allicin, which is found in the entire clove. That also means that over the course of the digestive process, both one’s breath and entire body can smell of garlic.

However, there are other advantages in removing the shoot before preparation. For one, the stalk can cause food to taste bitter. Furthermore, the size of the stalk is a good measure of whether the garlic has begun germinating and is no longer fresh. The rule of thumb is that the larger the shoot, the older the bulb.

“It is more helpful to cut and mince the garlic with your knife instead of using a presser,” says Alois Strobl. This way, less juice, which contains a particularly high amount of allicin, escapes during crushing. Pickling in milk also makes the toes milder, but at the expense of the original Mediterranean aroma.

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