Raw GarlicGarlic is an extremely versatile ingredient, it can be used in a wide variety of ways from raw to baked as you can see from the garlic recipes. Of all its forms, raw garlic is especially strong.
CookingWhen used as a cooking ingredient, raw garlic has the most powerful, pungent flavour. A little goes a long way. For the true garlicophile this is the purest expression of garlic - but others find it too strong for their tastes. For some people it can even cause digestive irritation.
Raw garlic can either be thinly sliced or crushed to release all those lovely juices.
For those wanting a milder, sweeter taste garlic can be cooked in a variety of ways to remove this 'edge' to the taste.
If using raw garlic in a recipe then the quality of the bulb is of great importance. If it is past its best then this will produce an unpleasant, slightly bitter taste. I prefer to buy locally sourced garlic rather than bulbs that have travelled across the world and this is especially true when using it raw.
Eating raw garlic does come at a price. As well as the most powerful taste it also, unfortunately, produces the most powerful garlic breath.
HealthThe issue of garlic health benefits is a complex one, it contains various compounds known or suspected of having beneficial properties.
One of the main medicinal constituents of garlic is allicin. This is only released when a clove is crushed or cut, so will not be found in roasted whole bulbs. It also degrades rapidly over time and can be this degeneration is faster when cooked - especially in the microwave. So as far as allicin is concerned then fresh raw, crushed garlic is the way to go.
However there are other chemicals in garlic that are reputed to have health given properties, most particularly the diallyl sulphides. These are not destroyed by cooking, but the cloves still need to be crushed or at least bruised in order to release them.
Be aware that garlic is very strong, especially when raw. Don't overdo it!