It may seem odd to consider something so familiar as garlic as a seasonal treat, but almost all the garlic we eat has been dried and kept in storage for months. This drying process has a profound effect on the properties of the garlic, making it much more pungent than fresh garlic. It does not, however, affect its medicinal merits, like fresh garlic it is very good for you. Its antibiotic qualities can be used to treat a host of health problems and it can help to reduce cholesterol and circulatory disorders. So eat as much of it as possible when the fresh stuff is not available.
Fresh garlic has a superb flavour and is fantastic roasted in the oven until the cloves are meltingly soft. The bulbs can be squeezed to extract a wonderful smoky sweet garlic puree; perfect for whipping into mash potato, enriching a salad dressing, or spreading over roast chicken or lamb. Whole garlic cloves can also be simmered in stock and then liquidised with a little stock and a splash of cream to produce a wonderful velvety sauce. Fresh garlic can still pack a punch, so if you prefer your sauces with a mellow flavour it is best to blanche the garlic first. Put the peeled garlic cloves into boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove and cool in cold water. Change the water and repeat the process.