Use garlic from a jar? Why not!

<I>CHINOOK OBSERVER PHOTO</I><BR>There's plenty of fun to be had by children at Northwest Garlic Festival, so be sure to bring the whole family.

There are some purists who would never use a cake mix, packaged salad, or - gasp - processed garlic. But before running from the idea of using garlic from a jar, whoa. Stop and consider the advantages.

Patsy Ross, Director of Marketing for Christopher Ranch in Gilroy, Calif., says one of the biggest benefits is derived from the time it saves. Some people, Ross said, "want to take the time to peel and chop the cloves, then cook them in whatever manner."

Ross feels that the decision of using processed garlic from a jar, versus fresh cloves, is really a matter of personal preference. But, persuasively, she said, "It's very close to fresh."

While there are some rehydrated garlic products on the market, the consumer can find chopped or crushed garlic that has been cooked fresh and, "the only additives are olive oil and citrus acid. They're very close to being homemade in that sense," Ross said.

She emphasized that these products have been cooked and pasteurized. "So, they're not as strong as raw garlic."

Also, perhaps a dish is being prepared that doesn't have to be cooked. The processed garlic has already been through the cooking process, "so you're one step ahead," Ross explained.

If garlic is taken along, such as on a picnic or camping excursion, Ross cautioned that if the jar has been previously opened, it must be kept cool

Before a jar has been opened, Ross said it has a shelf life of two years from the date it was packed. After opening, she said, "It will hold for about three to four months in the refrigerator."

Because processed garlic is not as strong as raw, Ross suggested applying the "two to one" rule in determining how much to use. Generally, two teaspoons of crushed or chopped garlic equals one fresh clove. Compare this to garlic power, which requires four to one, and Ross says the jarred garlic is certainly the winner.

Her job keeps her surrounded by garlic of all kinds. Christopher Ranch grows, packs and ships over 60 million pounds of garlic each year, much of it coming from the Gilroy fields. The ranch employs more than 800 people year-around, with a seasonal harvesting crew of 2,000. Much of the garlic is sold and shipped in a fresh state, in loose bulbs or braids. But some of it ends up in jars and that's a good thing for many cooks, especially those in a time pinch.

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