Garlic is a staple in many dishes around the world, adding flavour and depth to a variety of cuisines. But beyond its culinary uses, garlic has a rich medicinal history and cultural significance.
In ancient Egypt, garlic was given to slaves to increase their strength and endurance. It was also used as a medicinal herb, believed to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
The ancient Greeks and Romans also priced garlic for its health benefits, and it was a common ingredient in many traditional remedies.
Despite its controversial reputation, garlic has remained a popular ingredient in many cuisines, and its unique flavour has inspired countless chefs and home cooks to create new and delicious dishes.
Whether it’s the main attraction in a flavourful stir-fry or a subtle accent in a creamy pasta sauce, garlic adds depth and complexity to any dish it touches.
In Kenya, the garlic market is strong as consumers continue to demand the flavourful bulb. The average price of Kenyan garlic is Sh289.6 a kilo.
The average price for a tonne is Sh311,447.96 in Mombasa and Nairobi, according to Soko Directory.
The three main varieties that do well in Kenya include softneck, hard neck and elephant types of garlic. Softneck is the most popular and characterised by a white, paper-like skin with a fairly strong taste and pungent smell.
Faith Mwangi and her husband, Peter Mwangi from Kiambu, have been growing garlic for at least seven years.
They produce about 2,500 bulbs a year, which they sell and also value-add to products. Some of their garlic is sold in a farmers’ market in Nairobi.
There are many ways to add value to garlic, depending on the context and the desired outcome, says Faith Mwangi.
“We have several ways to boost the income from garlic by processing the harvested cloves, adding garlic to other products, or creating new value-added products. By taking a few simple additional steps, we can turn the harvested garlic from a simple food item to valuable products that can bring top dollar from consumers and double, even triple profits,” said Mwangi.
To obtain garlic powder, cloves are dehydrated and ground into a fine powder, which can be used as a seasoning in a variety of dishes.
Dehydrated garlic cloves or flakes and Rice flour
Grind garlic flakes or cloves by using a blender until desired softness is achieved, sift and add rice flour, mix together, and then package as desired.
100 grams of this powder is sold at Sh150.
The process of creating garlic flakes is a simple one. Bulbs of garlic are divided into cloves and stripped of the outer layers. The cloves are then minced into more or fewer uniform pieces, placed onto trays, and run through a dehydrating process to extract the liquid content from them.
“The main ingredient is garlic. Remove the skin, separate the cloves and peel them. Wash and clean the peeled garlic, slice and spread the garlic in a cheesecloth using a tray. Insert the tray in a mechanical dryer under 60 degree Celsius until fully dried. You can also dry under the sun but this will take a little longer, then pack after drying,” said Mwangi.
100 grams pack is sold at Sh150.
Pickled garlic is whole garlic cloves pickled in brine, which mellows its spicy flavour. It is popular in Italian and Spanish cuisine
Ingredients are peeled or sliced garlic, garnishing (carrots, red chilli, onions), brining solution: half a cup of salt and two cups water and pickling solution: one and a half cups white vinegar, one and a quarter cups of white sugar and one teaspoon of salt.
Peel the garlic, clean, slice and wash. Prepare and boil the brine solution until the salt is fully dissolved and let it cool. Soak the peeled garlic overnight with brine solution.
“Remove the brine and wash with running water to remove excess salt then prepare the garnishing. Arrange the garlic and garnish it according to the desired bottle,” said Mwangi.
Then prepare the pickling solution using a stainless kettle. Add pickling solution into the bottle with garlic filling them not higher than one inch from the top. Sterilize and remove bubbles. Pack and label properly.
Garlic chips are exactly what you expect them to be. Thinly sliced garlic that is cooked in oil until crispy, crunchy, and golden brown in colour. They can be incorporated into dishes differently.
Sliced garlic, Vegetable oil, Iodised salt
Fry until light brown in colour, spread in tissue paper until cold then pack.
Garlic enriched noodles
All-purpose flour, Garlic powders, water
Sift and mix dry ingredients together, prepare the dough, slice the dough into the desired size and knead, then cut the noodles using a machine, let them dry then pack.
Other products that can be made using garlic
Garlic salt: Garlic powder is mixed with salt to create a seasoning blend that is used in a variety of dishes.
Garlic oil: Garlic cloves are crushed and then steeped in oil to infuse the oil with the flavour of garlic. Garlic oil can be used as a condiment or as an ingredient in cooking.
Garlic paste: Garlic cloves are crushed and mixed with a small amount of oil to create a paste that can be used as a condiment or as an ingredient in cooking.
Garlic capsules: Garlic bulbs are ground into a fine powder and placed into capsules, which can be taken as a dietary supplement.
Garlic extract: Garlic bulbs are crushed and then soaked in a solvent, such as alcohol, to extract the active compounds in the garlic. The extract is then concentrated and used in a variety of products, such as supplements and health products.
Garlic juice: Garlic bulbs are crushed and the juice is extracted. Garlic juice can be used as a condiment or as an ingredient in cooking.