Garlic cooked on a wooden cutting board

What’s fresh in May? Garlic

This culinary and health titan is awaiting your discovery.

Story By Bailey Gilliam

Renowned across global kitchens and ancient medicine, garlic boasts a history as rich as its flavor. This member of the allium family, kin to onions, shallots and leeks, transcends mere culinary use, embedding itself deep within our culinary traditions and health practices. Beyond its staple status for creating mouthwatering dishes, it’s high time we spotlight garlic for its solo performances.

Garlic tea with garlic next to it
For those seeking to harness garlic’s full health potential, consider garlic tea. Prepared by boiling crushed garlic no longer than three minutes, this beverage retains the raw benefits, offering a direct infusion of wellness. Add honey and lemon juice to enhance the taste.

From pharaohs to pharmacopeia

Tracing its roots to ancient civilizations, garlic has been a cornerstone in the medical and nutritional realms, celebrated in historical texts from Egypt to Rome and beyond. Its presence in King Tut’s tomb underscores its value through the ages, not merely as a flavor enhancer but as a potent health ally. Today modern research supports garlic’s role in promoting heart health, its antimicrobial prowess and potential cancer-combating abilities. It is low in calories but rich in vitamins C, B6, manganese and crucial enzymes. garlic’s superstar compound, allicin, delivers its most potent benefits shortly after being crushed or chopped. Whether you’re warding off colds, managing blood pressure or pursuing overall wellness, garlic’s health benefits are compelling reasons to incorporate it into your diet.

young garlic lying on garden ground. Onion picking season.

Autumn planting, springtime harvest 

Though now is the prime time to relish fresh garlic, planting season occurs during the cooler embrace of autumn. Thriving in fluffy, sun-drenched soil, garlic requires patience and care, from strategic planting to timely harvest. As spring unfurls, tend to your garlic shoots, encouraging robust bulb development over seed production. When the lower shoots yellow as warmth returns, it’s harvest time.

Varieties for every taste

From the rapid growth of thermadrone to the heat-loving lorz Italian and the uniquely flavored Siberian, there’s a garlic variety for every climate and culinary preference. Softneck garlic varieties are generally more heat-tolerant and better suited to milder winters, making them ideal for Southern climates of the Lowcountry. Silver Skin, California Early and Creole all grow well here.  

Garlic in bag

From clove to cabinet 

When selecting garlic, appearances can be deceiving. Opt for bulbs that are firm and free from damage, avoiding those with a strong odor, which indicates potential internal issues. Storage is simple: keep it cool, dry and out of the fridge to maintain freshness and potency.

The raw truth

Garlic easily enhances a variety of dishes with its robust flavor, particularly soups and sauces, and can elevate even the most straightforward recipes. Available in forms such as cloves, pastes, powders and oils, garlic is most beneficial health-wise when consumed raw, though many shy away due to its strong taste. However, when properly balanced with acidity and seasonings, raw garlic adds a subtle, aromatic flair. A quick way to incorporate raw garlic is by mixing pressed cloves with extra virgin olive oil and salt for a nutritious salad dressing or adding it minced into salsa for an extra zing. This not only leverages garlic’s health benefits but also enriches dishes with a burst of flavor.

The art of cooking garlic

To master the art of cooking garlic without overdoing it, here are a few techniques to try:

Roasting: Trim the top off the garlic bulb, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, wrap in aluminum foil and roast in a 350-degree oven for 40 minutes for a sweet, mellow flavor.

Sautéing: Combine garlic with oil in a pan over medium heat, gently simmering until it turns golden, approximately 15 minutes, for a subtly rich addition to any dish.

Air frying: After heating your air fryer to 380 degrees, prepare the garlic as for roasting, cover in foil and air fry for about 16-20 minutes until tender, offering a quick and easy alternative to traditional roasting.

Grilling: Prepare your garlic bulbs as if roasting and place them on the grill over indirect heat at 400 degrees, wrapped securely, for around 40 minutes, to imbue a smoky essence that complements the garlic’s natural flavors.

“Cut the garlic in half, pluck the yellow/green part from the middle, and cut off the end. This will reduce any bitterness and spice that garlic can give.” — Chef Josh Castillo, Charlie’s Coastal Bistro

Roasted garlic

Simple 3-ingredient, 3-step recipe

Unlock the full potential of garlic with this uncomplicated guide to making perfectly roasted garlic. This method transforms the cloves into a soft, caramelized delight that can be savored on its own or used to enhance the flavor of mashed potatoes, soups and beyond. Plus, it’s freezer-friendly for future culinary adventures.

Garlic clove grilled on black stone background; top view.
Garlic clove grilled on black stone background; top view.


Whole garlic bulbs

Extra virgin olive oil (for drizzling)

Sea salt


[1] Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Slice about 1/4 inch off the top of each garlic bulb to expose the individual cloves. Place the bulbs cut-side up on a piece of aluminum foil. [2] Generously drizzle each exposed garlic bulb with extra virgin olive oil, and lightly sprinkle with sea salt to taste. [3] Wrap the bulbs securely in the foil, creating a snug package. Roast in the oven for 40-60 minutes, or until the cloves turn a rich golden brown and become tender to the touch.

 Benny Hudson Seafood

Creamy Lemon Garlic Seafood Pasta

This recipe from Benny Hudson Seafood features mussels, scallops and shrimp. This recipe creates a gourmet meal in just 30 minutes. 

Creamy Lemon Garlic Seafood Pasta

Ingredients (pasta and seafood) 

12 ounces linguini noodles

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 pound fresh scallops, rinsed and patted dry

1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined 

1/2 pound mussels

Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients (garlic sauce)

1/4 cup unsalted butter

4 cloves garlic, minced

Heavy whipping cream

1 cup chicken broth 

4 ounces cream cheese

Juice of 1 lemon

Fresh parsley, chopped for garnish

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, for garnish


[1] Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 2 cups of pasta water. [2] In a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the scallops and cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the shrimp for the last 1-2 minutes, and cook until no longer pink. Remove and set aside on a plate. [3] Add the reserved pasta water to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the mussels and reduce to a simmer and cover. Let the mussels steep for 5 minutes. Discard the ones that didn’t open. Set aside with the shrimp and scallops. [4] Add 1/4 cup butter to the saucepan and melt. Add garlic, heavy cream, chicken broth and cream cheese. Stir until cream cheese has melted and is smooth and creamy. Add the Parmesan cheese and lemon juice and let simmer until it thickens. [5] Stir in pasta and seafood and stir until heated through. Serve with fresh chopped parsley and Parmesan cheese.

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