Gin­ger — a ver­sa­tile bulb

It is one of the old­est spices in the world — and not only pop­u­lar in cook­ing because of its lemo­ny, pun­gent aro­ma. Gin­ger also offers a lot in terms of health and was named med­i­c­i­nal plant of the year in 2018. Its essen­tial oils and the pun­gent sub­stance gin­gerol have an antiox­i­dant effect, relieve nau­sea and inhib­it inflam­ma­tion. In addi­tion, it has a diges­tive effect, stim­u­lat­ing the release of sali­va and gas­tric juices. Right now, fresh gin­ger tea is ben­e­fi­cial for sore throats and colds. In addi­tion, it stim­u­lates the metab­o­lism and thus heats up cold hands and feet.

The ori­gin, prop­er­ties and his­to­ry of ginger

Gin­ger orig­i­nat­ed in India, more pre­cise­ly in the trop­i­cal forests there. In Europe, it spread only after the Mid­dle Ages. Today, gin­ger is grown through­out South­east Asia, the trop­i­cal regions of Africa, Latin Amer­i­ca, the Caribbean and Aus­tralia. Its spicy, cit­rusy aro­ma also brings a slight­ly sweet pun­gency, so that it is used in the cui­sine of all coun­tries in a vari­ety of ways.

It is also impos­si­ble to imag­ine Euro­pean cui­sine with­out the root­stock of gin­ger. It can be used as an ingre­di­ent in var­i­ous forms, espe­cial­ly in Asian dish­es, for exam­ple as a pow­der, sliced and pick­led, as a can­died vari­ant or, of course, fresh. And the bev­er­age indus­try has also long tak­en gin­ger to its heart: Along­side gin­ger beer, tea and lemon­ade, the gin­ger shot is cur­rent­ly con­quer­ing super­mar­ket shelves.

Gin­ger has a woody sur­face and is a light brown to yel­low­ish tuber. The rhi­zome can grow up to 40 cm long and reach a weight of up to 1 kg. Its taste is pun­gent, aro­mat­ic and slight­ly soapy. In our coun­try, gin­ger can be har­vest­ed from March to Octo­ber, as it is a frost-sen­si­tive plant. How­ev­er, in oth­er coun­tries, which have a sub­trop­i­cal cli­mate, gin­ger is grown all year round and is there­fore avail­able in our coun­try all year round.

The ingre­di­ents of ginger

Gin­ger is one of the health­i­est foods in the world. This is due to the many ingre­di­ents, such as vit­a­mins A and C, mag­ne­sium, cal­ci­um, potas­si­um and iron.

For exam­ple, 100 g of gin­ger con­tains 97 mg of cal­ci­um, 17 mg of iron, 910 mg of potas­si­um, 130 mg of mag­ne­sium and 34 mg of sodium.

The effect of gin­ger on our body

Gin­ger is con­sid­ered a so-called “super­food”. Respon­si­ble for this are cer­tain bioac­tive ingre­di­ents, the so-called gin­gerols and shogaols. They are respon­si­ble for the pun­gent taste and some health effects. In addi­tion, gin­ger con­tains essen­tial oil, which is respon­si­ble for the typ­i­cal gin­ger aroma.

No won­der gin­ger has been used as a rem­e­dy in Asia for thou­sands of years. It is used for the fol­low­ing complaints:

  • Stom­ach pain
  • Nau­sea
  • Toothache
  • Asth­ma and res­pi­ra­to­ry problems
  • Rheuma­tism
  • Cold

Researchers and physi­cians have found in numer­ous lab­o­ra­to­ry tests that gin­ger can, for exam­ple, slow down the for­ma­tion of so-called free rad­i­cals, which are harm­ful to many tis­sues. The ingre­di­ents of gin­ger may also have a pos­i­tive effect on the devel­op­ment of can­cer cells. Stud­ies on humans show that gin­ger can help espe­cial­ly with the fol­low­ing complaints:

  • Feel­ing queasy in the stom­ach area and vomiting
  • Inflam­ma­tion, espe­cial­ly in osteoarthritis
  • Pain

Gin­ger in the kitchen

The tuber is ver­sa­tile. Most peo­ple know it from Asian dish­es, because it is impos­si­ble to imag­ine Asian cui­sine with­out ginger.

Gin­ger is excel­lent with soups and veg­eta­bles, as well as fish and meat dish­es. Gin­ger is also used in some desserts, for exam­ple to add an aro­mat­ic note to cream dish­es, fruit sal­ads, cook­ies or cakes.

But gin­ger is not only used in dish­es, but also in drinks. The best known is gin­ger tea. But the so-called gin­ger shots are also gain­ing in pop­u­lar­i­ty. They usu­al­ly con­tain a mix of gin­ger pieces, gin­ger juice and oth­er, often sweet­ened, fruit juices.

Gin­ger can be processed fresh, but is also avail­able in pow­der form or dried. For the prepa­ra­tion of dish­es, gin­ger can be sliced, diced or fine­ly grated.

Pur­chase and stor­age of ginger 

The fresh gin­ger can be eas­i­ly stored in a cool and dark envi­ron­ment for sev­er­al weeks.

Gin­ger can also be frozen with­out any prob­lems. To do this, sim­ply slice or grate the root and freeze in a freez­er can.

Lamb’s let­tuce — mild and nutty

The lamb’s let­tuce is also known col­lo­qui­al­ly as field let­tuce, rapun­zel let­tuce, mouse ear, rab­bit ear, nuts or sun swirl. It is one of the health­i­est sal­ads, because it con­tains many min­er­als and vit­a­mins. The lamb’s let­tuce not only strength­ens our immune sys­tem, but can, due to the con­tained valer­ian oil, have a calm­ing effect on us.

The ori­gin, prop­er­ties and his­to­ry of lamb’s lettuce

From a botan­i­cal point of view, lamb’s let­tuce belongs to the Valer­ian fam­i­ly of plants. This is because the let­tuce con­tains valer­ian oils. They are also the rea­son why the let­tuce looks so nice crisp green and they give it the typ­i­cal nut­ty aroma.

Lamb’s let­tuce has been around since the Stone Age. How­ev­er, it has only been cul­ti­vat­ed for 100 years. For a long time, it just grew wild on road­sides and was some­times con­sid­ered a weed. In the mean­time, let­tuce has become very pop­u­lar, espe­cial­ly in Europe. Here in Ger­many, it is also known as field let­tuce, rapun­zel let­tuce, mouse ear, rab­bit ear, nuts or sun swirl.

Let­tuce is grown every­where in tem­per­ate lat­i­tudes. In Ger­many, it is main­ly cul­ti­vat­ed in Rhineland-Palati­nate, Baden-Würt­tem­berg and Low­er Saxony.

Lamb’s let­tuce is a typ­i­cal win­ter veg­etable and is in sea­son from Octo­ber to Feb­ru­ary. The plant can reach a height of growth from 5 to max. 15 cm. Its leaves are green and spat­u­late. They are arranged in a rosette of leaves and can grow between 3 and 5 cm long.

The ingre­di­ents of lamb’s lettuce

Lamb’s let­tuce is one of the health­i­est sal­ads, because it con­tains many min­er­als and vit­a­mins. Among oth­er things, the sal­ad con­tains provi­t­a­min A, vit­a­min C and folic acid, but also iron, sodi­um, potas­si­um, cal­ci­um, mag­ne­sium and phosphorus.

In addi­tion, lamb’s let­tuce is also a veg­etable source of iodine. This is espe­cial­ly impor­tant for peo­ple who do not reg­u­lar­ly eat fish.

Like any oth­er sal­ad, lamb’s let­tuce is par­tic­u­lar­ly low in calo­ries. On 100 g come the once 14 kcal.

The effect of lamb’s let­tuce on our body

The con­tained provi­t­a­min A, which our body con­verts into vit­a­min A, has a good effect on the eyes and nerves, and the con­tained beta carotene helps the eyes to reg­u­late light and dark vision.

The iron, which is also con­tained, ensures that our blood absorbs suf­fi­cient oxy­gen and thus opti­mal­ly sup­plies the organism.

Vit­a­min C con­tributes to the strength­en­ing of our immune sys­tem. In addi­tion, vit­a­min C is also impor­tant for build­ing con­nec­tive tis­sue and bones.

The essen­tial oil con­tained, valer­ian oil, is said to strength­en the veins and have a calm­ing effect on us.

Lamb’s let­tuce in the kitchen

Before eat­ing lamb’s let­tuce, it should be washed thor­ough­ly, as residues of soil and sand can accu­mu­late in the rosette. The roots should also be removed with a small kitchen knife. Here, how­ev­er, it is impor­tant to ensure that the ends of the leaves con­tin­ue to hold together.

The best way to get the let­tuce clean is to clean it by hand in the first step and then place it briefly in cold water. Then take the let­tuce out of the water and dry it with the help of a sal­ad spin­ner. It is impor­tant that the let­tuce is thor­ough­ly dried, oth­er­wise its leaves will quick­ly collapse.

Lamb’s let­tuce can be dressed with sweet or spicy dress­ing, such as hon­ey mus­tard dress­ing. It is also very tasty in com­bi­na­tion with pome­gran­ates, bacon or wal­nuts. The dress­ing should also be added just before eat­ing, oth­er­wise the sal­ad will be mushy.

Pur­chase and stor­age of lamb’s lettuce

It is best to pre­pare lamb’s let­tuce as fresh as pos­si­ble, as it wilts quick­ly. In the veg­etable com­part­ment of the refrig­er­a­tor let­tuce can keep a few days.

Beet — Tuber, a real superfood

Beet is one of the health­i­est veg­eta­bles in the world. It con­tains many impor­tant nutri­ents that have count­less pos­i­tive effects on our body. Thus, the con­sump­tion of the beet has a pos­i­tive effect on our organs, such as the heart, gall blad­der and liv­er, but it can also increase con­cen­tra­tion, qual­i­ty of life and endurance.

The ori­gin, prop­er­ties and his­to­ry of beetroot

The beet prob­a­bly comes from North Africa and was then still a wild turnip. It came to Europe with the Romans. Only since the 19th cen­tu­ry, the beet has the shape and col­or as we know it.

The beet is grown almost all over the world. This is due to the fact that it has no spe­cial require­ments for the soil and only needs a tem­per­ate cli­mate to grow.

Beet belongs to the fox­tail fam­i­ly and has the shape of a ball. It can reach a diam­e­ter of up to 10 cm. From the out­side it is sur­round­ed by a dark, pur­ple and slight­ly red­dish skin. Inside it can take the shades from pink to red. One ripe beet can weigh up to 600 g.

The beet is a clas­sic autumn-win­ter veg­etable. It is in sea­son from Sep­tem­ber to March. How­ev­er, pick­led it is avail­able all year round.

The ingre­di­ents of beet

Beet con­tains a lot of healthy nutri­ents. These include, for exam­ple, cal­ci­um, sodi­um, iron, mag­ne­sium, potas­si­um, vit­a­mins of the B group and vit­a­min C.

In addi­tion, the beet also con­tains the sec­ondary plant sub­stance betaine, which has a pos­i­tive effect on the liv­er and gall blad­der, for exam­ple. The veg­etable is also very low in calo­ries. On 100 g beet come just 47 kcal. This is due, among oth­er things, to the fact that the veg­etable con­sists of about 85 % of water.

The effect of beet on our body

Beet has an extreme­ly pos­i­tive effect on our body in many areas. The veg­etable is not with­out rea­son a super­food, because it is also one of the health­i­est veg­eta­bles in the world.

Prob­a­bly the best known effect of the beet is the detox­i­fi­ca­tion effect. It is one of the most pop­u­lar foods from the detox area to detox­i­fy the liv­er and blood. This process takes place through the ingre­di­ent betaine. This reduces fat accu­mu­la­tion in the liv­er and leads to an increase in liv­er func­tion. This leads to healthy diges­tion and the body is able to elim­i­nate meta­bol­ic waste prod­ucts and tox­ins com­plete­ly and quickly.

Fur­ther­more, the ingre­di­ents of the beet low­er our cho­les­terol lev­el. This in turn has a pos­i­tive effect on our heart. In addi­tion, heart and artery dis­ease can be pre­vent­ed thanks to the B vit­a­min and betaine contained.

The veg­etable also has a blood pres­sure low­er­ing effect, as their ingre­di­ents increase blood cir­cu­la­tion. This also leads to bet­ter blood cir­cu­la­tion for the entire body, which in turn ben­e­fits the heart.

But not enough, because the beet can do much more. Eat­ing the veg­etable can also increase con­cen­tra­tion, qual­i­ty of life and endurance, as well as alle­vi­ate chron­ic dis­eases, and most impor­tant­ly, it strength­ens our immune system.

Anoth­er pos­i­tive prop­er­ty of the beet is that reg­u­lar con­sump­tion of the veg­etable makes it eas­i­er to main­tain weight. This is espe­cial­ly rec­om­mend­ed when you have been diet­ing and want to main­tain your desired weight. This is due to the nutri­ents that lead to opti­mal reg­u­la­tion of bod­i­ly process­es. In addi­tion, thanks to the fiber, the veg­etable is also satiating.

Beet in the kitchen

Beet can be eat­en raw or cooked. In the raw ver­sion, the veg­etable is main­ly found in sal­ads. Boiled or steamed, it is often served as a side dish. Beet juice is par­tic­u­lar­ly pop­u­lar, however.

Trail mix — Fit Food

Trail mix is a pop­u­lar snack, espe­cial­ly among stu­dents, because it pro­motes con­cen­tra­tion and pro­vides ener­gy. It is also a good alter­na­tive to choco­late and chips, because the fruit and nut mix­ture con­tains many healthy nutri­ents. The pop­u­lar snack has been around since the 17th cen­tu­ry and con­sist­ed only of almonds and raisins. Today, there is a wide vari­ety of mix­tures of nuts and dried fruit.

Why is it called trail mix?

The name “trail mix” has exist­ed since the 17th cen­tu­ry and describes a nut-fruit mix­ture, which is also known as nerve food and is very com­mon among students.

Orig­i­nal­ly, the mix­ture con­sist­ed only of raisins and almonds. These two foods are ulti­mate­ly also the rea­son why it is called trail mix, because almonds and raisins could only afford in the past groups of peo­ple of the upper class, because this good was very expen­sive. Aca­d­e­mics belonged at that time to the upper class, since only chil­dren from rich par­ents could afford the uni­ver­si­ty. There raisins and almonds were nib­bled with plea­sure as snack besides while studying.

More­over, there was a mis­con­cep­tion among stu­dents that almonds and raisins would alle­vi­ate a hang­over. Today, trail mix­es no longer con­sist only of raisins and almonds. There are now var­i­ous mix­tures of dif­fer­ent types of nuts and dried fruit. And trail mix­es, although still high­ly priced, are now afford­able for ordi­nary people.

What’s in trail mix?

Mean­while, there are the wildest mix­tures of trail mix­es, which are not lim­it­ed to nuts and fruits. There are also mix­tures that con­tain choco­late or coconut flakes. The clas­sic trail mix con­sists of raisins, hazel­nuts, almonds, wal­nuts and cashews. Mix­tures con­tain­ing cran­ber­ries, peanuts and Brazil nuts are also popular.

Untreat­ed nuts in par­tic­u­lar are extreme­ly healthy because they con­tain impor­tant min­er­als and fiber. The unsat­u­rat­ed wal­nut ker­nels, for exam­ple, are said to reduce the risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases and can­cer. Hazel­nuts pro­tect our cells due to the vit­a­min E they con­tain. Par­tic­u­lar­ly good for our immune sys­tem is sele­ni­um, which is con­tained in Brazil nuts. But dried fruit also has pos­i­tive prop­er­ties. Because raisins calm our nerves. This is due to the high con­tent of cal­ci­um and B vit­a­mins con­tained in the dried grapes. In addi­tion, raisins also stop cravings.

Why is trail mix con­sid­ered a nerve food?

The nuts in trail mix increase con­cen­tra­tion. This is due to the omega‑3 fat­ty acids, vit­a­min B and mag­ne­sium con­tained in the nuts. The fruc­tose in the dried fruits pro­vides our body with ener­gy and thus increas­es per­for­mance. So it is proven that this healthy snack increas­es think­ing per­for­mance and pro­vides ener­gy to the body.

Is trail mix real­ly healthy?

Trail mix is def­i­nite­ly a good alter­na­tive to chips and choco­late. This is ensured by the healthy nutri­ents, min­er­als, fiber and fat­ty acids. How­ev­er, you should also remem­ber that nuts con­tain a lot of calo­ries. So you can nib­ble trail mix as a healthy snack with­out a guilty con­science, but only in mod­er­a­tion and not in masses.

Vanil­la bean — queen of spices

Vanil­la is one of the most pop­u­lar and at the same time most expen­sive spices in the world. Its pods give many dish­es a dis­tinc­tive taste and a unique aro­ma. Espe­cial­ly at Christ­mas time, many resort to the deli­cious spice and sweet­en their treats with it. Due to its health-pro­mot­ing effect, the vanil­la bean is also con­sid­ered a true super­food and was there­fore already very pop­u­lar among the indige­nous peo­ples of Cen­tral America. 

The ori­gin, prop­er­ties and his­to­ry of the vanil­la bean

Vanil­la beans grow from the white flow­ers of var­i­ous orchid species and thus belong to the orchid fam­i­ly. Botan­i­cal­ly, the term “vanil­la bean” is there­fore actu­al­ly not quite cor­rect, because the vanil­la bean is not a pod, but rather a cap­sule fruit of the orchid genus Vanil­la. Over 100 dif­fer­ent species of the vanil­la genus exist world­wide. How­ev­er, only 15 vari­eties deliv­er the desired aroma. 

The real vanil­la or spiced vanil­la (Vanil­la plan­i­fo­lia) orig­i­nates from Mex­i­co and was already used by the Aztecs and Mayas to fla­vor their food. Par­tic­u­lar­ly pop­u­lar with the Aztecs was “Xoco­latl” — a kind of drink­ing choco­late made from vanil­la, water, cocoa pow­der and spices. The Span­ish con­quis­ta­dor Hernán Cortés final­ly brought the vanil­la bean to Europe. Here, how­ev­er, vanil­la only expe­ri­enced its break­through when sug­ar was also added to drink­ing choco­late. The orig­i­nal Aztec ver­sion was sweet­ened — if at all — only with a lit­tle hon­ey, but usu­al­ly spiced with chilies or pepper. 

Today, spiced vanil­la is grown main­ly in Mada­gas­car and oth­er islands in the Indi­an Ocean. Its cul­ti­va­tion is par­tic­u­lar­ly labo­ri­ous because the vanil­la flow­ers often have to be pol­li­nat­ed by hand so that the flow­ers can actu­al­ly devel­op into pods. For a long time, pro­fes­sion­al cul­ti­va­tion in areas far from Mex­i­co was not pos­si­ble because of the lack of nat­ur­al pol­li­na­tion of the flow­ers. It was not until the begin­ning of the 19th cen­tu­ry that farm­ers came up with the idea of pierc­ing the skin between the pis­til and anther with a cac­tus spike, thus pol­li­nat­ing the flower. Due to its com­plex pol­li­na­tion, har­vest­ing and pro­cess­ing, spiced vanil­la is now one of the most expen­sive spices in the world, along with saf­fron. One kilo­gram of Vanil­la plan­i­fo­lia cur­rent­ly costs €600. For this rea­son, the main fla­vor­ing agent, vanillin, is now main­ly pro­duced arti­fi­cial­ly and real vanil­la is only used for par­tic­u­lar­ly high-qual­i­ty pastries. 

Besides spiced vanil­la, bour­bon vanil­la is par­tic­u­lar­ly in demand. Bour­bon vanil­la is par­tic­u­lar­ly pop­u­lar in Europe because of its intense aro­ma. It orig­i­nates from the French island “Île Bour­bon” (Bour­bon Island) and there­fore received its name. Today the island is known as “La Réu­nion”. How­ev­er, the vanil­la kept its name. Unlike spice vanil­la, which has a very fruity and del­i­cate fla­vor, Bour­bon vanil­la is much fin­er, creami­er and more bal­anced taste. 

Tahit­ian vanil­la tastes some­what less intense­ly of vanil­la. It does not come from the vanil­la orchid like the spice vanil­la and the bour­bon vanil­la, but from anoth­er plant vari­ety, the Vanil­la tahiten­sis. Tahit­ian vanil­la grows on the island of Tahi­ti in the Pacif­ic Ocean and has a very flo­ral and del­i­cate aro­ma. Due to its small har­vest, this vanil­la vari­ety is con­sid­ered par­tic­u­lar­ly exclu­sive and is there­fore only found in gourmet kitchens. 

The ingre­di­ents of the vanil­la bean

The spice vanil­la con­sists of water, sug­ar, fat and min­er­als. In addi­tion, it has a very high cel­lu­lose con­tent, which can be up to 30 %. The main fla­vor­ing sub­stance vanillin, which is main­ly respon­si­ble for the unique taste and dis­tinc­tive aro­ma, is the low­est with a pro­por­tion of 1.5 % — 2.4 %.  

To extract one kilo­gram of vanillin from the vanil­la plant, 500 kilo­grams of vanil­la beans must be har­vest­ed. This cor­re­sponds to about 40,000 flow­ers that are pol­li­nat­ed by hand. There­fore, as already men­tioned, vanillin is nowa­days most­ly pro­duced arti­fi­cial­ly. Syn­thet­ic vanillin con­sists of only one ingre­di­ent and can there­fore be pro­duced very cheap­ly. To give the impres­sion that real vanillin was used in the pro­duc­tion of vanil­la sug­ar, the shell of the vanil­la bean is ground and added to the syn­thet­ic vanillin. In addi­tion, vanillin from con­ven­tion­al cul­ti­va­tion may con­tain traces of pes­ti­cides, as these are used in cultivation.

The effect of the vanil­la bean on our body

Vanil­la bean used to be an indis­pens­able part of the house­hold phar­ma­cy. Espe­cial­ly in the 18th and 19th cen­turies it was used for gen­er­al strength­en­ing of the organ­ism. The indige­nous peo­ple of Mex­i­co also dis­cov­ered that the pod has an invig­o­rat­ing effect on the sex­u­al organs and there­fore rubbed them­selves with it. Even today, vanil­la is often added to many per­fumes and cos­met­ics due to its aphro­disi­ac effect. 

But the vanil­la bean can do even more: The vanillin in the vanil­la bean has antiox­i­dant, antimi­cro­bial and anti-inflam­ma­to­ry effects. Thus, vanil­la can help alle­vi­ate or pre­vent dis­eases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, can­cer or pso­ri­a­sis. Vanil­la can also reduce the risk of infec­tion in open wounds or be used to com­bat morn­ing sick­ness. Vanillin also has a calm­ing and mood-lift­ing effect on our body. There­fore, it is often used to com­bat depres­sive moods, anx­i­ety dis­or­ders or sleep disorders. 

The vanil­la bean in the kitchen

The vanil­la bean is used in the kitchen main­ly to refine desserts and pas­tries. Fruit is also often served with vanil­la. How­ev­er, the vanil­la bean can also be used in savory dish­es. Thus, the pulp of the vanil­la bean can also be added when cook­ing spicy sauces. This releas­es count­less aro­mat­ic sub­stances that give the dish a spe­cial touch.

Buy­ing and stor­ing the vanil­la bean

Due to the high price of the vanil­la bean can often be coun­ter­feit ori­gin. There­fore, before buy­ing, you should find out exact­ly about the dif­fer­ent types of vanil­la beans and their ori­gin. Bour­bon vanil­la from the Bour­bon Islands, for exam­ple, is usu­al­ly con­sid­ered the most expen­sive vanil­la. Apart from the ori­gin, how­ev­er, the qual­i­ty of the vanil­la bean should also be looked at more close­ly when buy­ing: The vanil­la bean should be reg­u­lar­ly brown and not break when you bend it. The skin should also have a leath­ery con­sis­ten­cy and be some­what shiny. If the pod breaks or has black, white or red spots, this is an indi­ca­tion of infe­ri­or qual­i­ty, as it means it has been dried for too long or is too old. Vanil­la beans are pack­aged air­tight and sold indi­vid­u­al­ly. The length plays an impor­tant role: the longer the pod, the high­er its price. 

The shelf life of the vanil­la bean is about two years. How­ev­er, it can be sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduced by high tem­per­a­tures, humid­i­ty, sun­light and mold. There­fore, it should be stored air­tight, dry and cool. How­ev­er, it is not rec­om­mend­ed to store it in the refrig­er­a­tor. Also, it should not be stored with oth­er spices. It is best to store it in the pack­ag­ing that comes with it. This is the longest way to pre­serve it. 

Cin­na­mon — a typ­i­cal Christ­mas spice

Cin­na­mon is one of the old­est and most valu­able spices in the world. Its spicy and sweet aro­ma is unique and very pop­u­lar, espe­cial­ly dur­ing the Christ­mas sea­son. Cin­na­mon is not only good to round off the taste of gin­ger­bread or cin­na­mon stars, it also has heal­ing prop­er­ties. But you should enjoy cin­na­mon with cau­tion, because the spice also has a harm­ful effect on health.

The ori­gin, prop­er­ties and his­to­ry of cinnamon

Cin­na­mon is one of the old­est and most valu­able spices in the world. There was even a time when cin­na­mon was more valu­able than gold. The spice was so high­ly regard­ed that, for exam­ple, Egypt­ian nobles were embalmed with it.

The spice was first sold by Arab traders. Through them came the wildest rumors about the ori­gin of the spice, because they kept it a secret. It was said that cin­na­mon grows at the bot­tom of lakes or that it comes from birds that build their nests with cin­na­mon sticks. Cin­na­mon arrived in Europe in the 14th century.

Today we know bet­ter. Because cin­na­mon is noth­ing oth­er than tree bark, which is obtained in a spe­cial way. Here we dis­tin­guish between two cin­na­mon trees:

  • Cey­lon cin­na­mon, which has its ori­gin in Sri Lan­ka. It smells more and is sweet­er and is con­sid­ered the “real” cinnamon.
  • Cas­sia cin­na­mon, which comes from Chi­na. This vari­ety I char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly sharp­er and stronger. It is con­sid­ered an adul­ter­ation of the “real” cin­na­mon, which is main­ly processed into spice.

These two vari­eties can be dis­tin­guished by their bark. Cas­sia cin­na­mon sticks have a thick lay­er of bark with a cav­i­ty and the bark curls in from both sides. Cely­lon cin­na­mon sticks, on the oth­er hand, are rolled up in many thin lay­ers and curl in from one side only.

The ingre­di­ents of cinnamon

Cin­na­mon con­tains essen­tial oils such as cin­namalde­hyde and eugenol. Fur­ther­more, the spice has alco­hols, mucilage and tan­nins, coumarin and starch. On 100 g cin­na­mon come 247 kcal. What sounds like a lot at first, is not so much when you think about it a sec­ond time, because you have to con­sid­er that you only eat a small amount of cinnamon.

The effect of cin­na­mon on our body

Cin­na­mon was once con­sid­ered a rem­e­dy and there­fore has a firm place in folk med­i­cine. In order to pre­vent the bubon­ic plague from spread­ing fur­ther in the Mid­dle Ages, a mix­ture of cin­na­mon, water and cloves was placed in sick­rooms, for exam­ple. Cin­na­mon was used in those days exter­nal­ly (e.g. athlete’s foot) and inter­nal­ly (e.g. gas­troin­testi­nal) to treat var­i­ous diseases.

But what can cin­na­mon actu­al­ly do? The answer is, the spice can pro­vide relief in many areas. For exam­ple, it pro­motes appetite and at the same time stim­u­lates intesti­nal activ­i­ty. It can also help with weight loss, as it can low­er blood sug­ar through an insulin-like effect. Through this effect, the body thinks that it lacks ener­gy or sug­ar and begins to release its fat reserves.

The spice also has a pos­i­tive effect on our heart. Thus, it low­ers not only blood sug­ar lev­els, but also cho­les­terol and blood pressure.

Anoth­er pos­i­tive prop­er­ty is that cin­na­mon has antibac­te­r­i­al and anal­gesic effects. Due to these prop­er­ties, cin­na­mon is also used in wound cleans­ing and the cin­na­mon oil is often includ­ed in mouthwashes.

Besides all the pos­i­tive prop­er­ties, cin­na­mon can also be harm­ful to health. This is main­ly due to the nat­ur­al ingre­di­ent coumarin. This ingre­di­ent can lead to liv­er and kid­ney dam­age in high concentrations.

Coumarin is main­ly found in cas­sia cin­na­mon. In Cey­lon cin­na­mon, the ingre­di­ent is found only in very small quan­ti­ties, which is why this vari­ety is con­sid­ered uncrit­i­cal. In prin­ci­ple, it has also been proven that cin­na­mon pow­der con­tains more coumarin than cin­na­mon sticks.

Since it is known that coumarin has a harm­ful effect on health, and since cas­sia cin­na­mon, which, as already men­tioned, has a high coumarin con­tent, is pre­dom­i­nant­ly offered in the trade, max­i­mum val­ues for this ingre­di­ent have been in force in the trade for sev­er­al years.

Fur­ther­more, the con­sump­tion of cin­na­mon is not rec­om­mend­ed for the fol­low­ing groups: preg­nant women, nurs­ing moth­ers, peo­ple suf­fer­ing from gas­tric or intesti­nal ulcers and peo­ple tak­ing med­ica­tions that affect the liver.

Cin­na­mon in the kitchen

The spice is par­tic­u­lar­ly pop­u­lar dur­ing the Christ­mas sea­son, as it is used in many Christ­mas cakes, such as gin­ger­bread or cin­na­mon stars. Gen­er­al­ly, it is used in desserts, but also in drinks such as tea, cocoa or on the cap­puc­ci­no as a dec­o­ra­tion you can find cin­na­mon. Fur­ther­more, it is also used in apple­sauce or stewed apples, semoli­na por­ridge or rice pud­ding to refine.

Pur­chase and stor­age of cinnamon

When buy­ing prod­ucts that con­tain cin­na­mon, it is essen­tial to pay atten­tion to the amount of coumarin. The lim­it is often exceed­ed in fin­ished prod­ucts in par­tic­u­lar, as the cheap­er cas­sia cin­na­mon is pre­dom­i­nant­ly used there. How­ev­er, it is dif­fi­cult to find out whether the lim­it has been exceed­ed, as man­u­fac­tur­ers are not oblig­ed to state which type of cin­na­mon has been used in the prod­uct. For this rea­son, care should be tak­en to con­sume prod­ucts con­tain­ing cin­na­mon only in mod­er­a­tion. Cin­na­mon should be stored well closed, dry and dark. If cin­na­mon no longer smells strong­ly of cin­na­mon, it should no longer be used, as it has then devel­oped a slight­ly bit­ter taste and can no longer devel­op its effect properly.

Dried fruit — dried bun­dles of energy

Dried fruit (also called dried fruit, baked fruit) dates back to a time when it was not pos­si­ble to con­sume fruit in win­ter unless it had been suf­fi­cient­ly pre­served before­hand. Nowa­days, fruit coun­ters in super­mar­kets are full to burst­ing even in the cold sea­son. Nev­er­the­less, dried fruit is still pop­u­lar with many. Whether as a snack between meals or as an ingre­di­ent in bak­ing, dried fruit has become indispensable. 

High­ly aro­mat­ic in taste, it pro­vides us with numer­ous min­er­als, trace ele­ments and vit­a­mins. There­fore, the ener­gy bun­dles are rec­om­mend­ed by nutri­tion­ists espe­cial­ly for endurance ath­letes and in exam situations. 

The ori­gin, prop­er­ties and his­to­ry of dried fruit

Dried fruit orig­i­nat­ed in the regions of the Mid­dle East. As ear­ly as 5,000 years ago, meth­ods were sought in Mesopotamia to make fruits last longer. Hunters and gath­er­ers observed how dates, figs or grapes fell from the trees or vines and were dried by the sun. It soon turned out that the dried fruit was quite edi­ble and also tast­ed deli­cious due to its sweet­ish fla­vor. Thus the first method of pre­serv­ing food was born. 

Dry­ing removes up to 70 % of water con­tent from the fruit. This auto­mat­i­cal­ly extends their shelf life. In addi­tion, the loss of liq­uid has a pos­i­tive effect on the size, weight and taste of the fruit. After dry­ing, the fruits are much small­er and lighter. They taste sweet­er and have a much more intense aroma. 

Mean­while, almost any type of fruit can be dried. Two main meth­ods are used for this purpose: 

  • Dry­ing by heat sup­ply  
    With this dry­ing method, pro­duc­ers can decide whether to dry the fruits in the sun in the clas­sic way, like the inhab­i­tants of Mesapota­nia, or to use dry­ing equip­ment. To speed up the dry­ing process and pre­serve the col­or of the fruit, var­i­ous oils can be used in com­bi­na­tion with sul­fur dioxide. 
  • Freeze dry­ing and vac­u­um 
    Anoth­er pro­duc­tion method is freeze-dry­ing. In this process, fresh fruit is filled into a spe­cial vac­u­um con­tain­er direct­ly after har­vest­ing and shock-frozen. This is a very gen­tle preser­va­tion process, because nei­ther oils nor sul­fur are used and the con­tained micronu­tri­ents are opti­mal­ly preserved. 

In the pro­duc­tion of dried fruit is used only ripe and intact fruit. In addi­tion to dates, figs and grapes, apri­cots, apples, pears, straw­ber­ries, kiwis, cher­ries, peach­es and plums are par­tic­u­lar­ly suitable. 

The ingre­di­ents of dried fruit

Dried fruit is rich in car­bo­hy­drates, fiber, vit­a­mins, trace ele­ments and min­er­als. In addi­tion to vit­a­min A, the dried fruits pro­vide our body with potas­si­um, cal­ci­um, mag­ne­sium and iron, among oth­er things. In com­bi­na­tion with fruc­tose, glu­cose and poly­sac­cha­rides, they are true ener­gy bun­dles. The nutri­ent con­tent of dried fruit can­not be pre­cise­ly deter­mined, as it depends heav­i­ly on the par­tic­u­lar type of fruit and dry­ing method. How­ev­er, it is clear that the con­cen­tra­tion of nutri­ents increas­es due to the loss of water dur­ing the dry­ing process. Gen­tly dried fruits retain a large num­ber of nutri­ents. In some cas­es, they are recov­ered in a more con­cen­trat­ed form. 

In addi­tion, sun-dried dried fruit con­tains preser­v­a­tives such as sul­fur dioxide. 

The effect of dried fruit on our body

Dried fruit pro­vides our body with impor­tant nutri­ents and ener­gy, which we need espe­cial­ly dur­ing sports or in exam sit­u­a­tions. It also has an anti-inflam­ma­to­ry and blood sug­ar reg­u­lat­ing effect. Thus, the dried fruit can opti­mal­ly coun­ter­act meta­bol­ic dis­eases such as type 2 dia­betes. In addi­tion, the baked fruit ensures healthy diges­tion and improves men­tal well-being. 

But dried fruit must also be enjoyed with cau­tion. Due to the high fruc­tose con­tent, it pro­motes tooth decay. Some peo­ple may also be sen­si­tive to sun-dried baked fruit because the sul­fur it con­tains can cause headaches, nau­sea, vom­it­ing, diar­rhea and res­pi­ra­to­ry problems. 

Dried fruit in the kitchen

Dried fruits can be used in an extreme­ly wide vari­ety of ways. Due to their high sug­ar con­tent, they are a healthy alter­na­tive to con­ven­tion­al sweets. The numer­ous nutri­ents also make them ide­al as a snack between meals or on the go. 

The deli­cious fruits can also be used in a vari­ety of ways in the kitchen. Dried fruit is a pop­u­lar ingre­di­ent in mues­li and fruit bars. In win­ter, it is often used to bake fruit bread. But dried fruit can also be used to refine and sup­ple­ment sauces or served as a gar­nish for yogurt, cot­tage cheese and ice cream. 

Pur­chase and stor­age of dried fruit

When buy­ing dried fruit, pay par­tic­u­lar atten­tion to the sug­ar con­tent and the use of preser­v­a­tives. Some man­u­fac­tur­ers add indus­tri­al sug­ar in the pro­duc­tion of dried fruit. How­ev­er, this is not nec­es­sary and, as already men­tioned, can lead to health prob­lems, as the dried fruit already has a high fruc­tose con­tent. Often, dried fruit is also treat­ed with sul­fur diox­ide. From a quan­ti­ty of more than 10 mg sul­fite per kg, the man­u­fac­tur­er must indi­cate the sub­stance on the ingre­di­ents list of the pack­ag­ing. This can be iden­ti­fied under the fol­low­ing E num­bers: E 220, E 221 and E 228. 

If you want to avoid cer­tain preser­v­a­tives, it is best to reach for organ­i­cal­ly pro­duced dried fruit, as it is not treat­ed with syn­thet­ic and chem­i­cal agents. 

Dried fruit can be stored for a long time due to its low water con­tent. It is impor­tant, how­ev­er, that it should not be allowed to dry fur­ther, oth­er­wise it will become brit­tle and lose its fla­vor. Ide­al­ly, it should be stored in a cool, dark and dry place. Opaque con­tain­ers are par­tic­u­lar­ly suit­able for this pur­pose. Vac­u­um bags should not be used, as the dried fruit may tear when removed. Some man­u­fac­tur­ers rec­om­mend stor­ing the dried fruit in the refrig­er­a­tor after open­ing. In order to pre­serve the dried fruit as long as pos­si­ble, we advise you to always take a look at the instruc­tions on the prod­uct packaging. 

Orange — The Chi­nese apple

Anoth­er name for the orange is orange. The word orange orig­i­nat­ed from “apple from Chi­na”, which in turn indi­cates the ori­gin of the fruit.

The orange belongs to the cit­rus fruits and is a vit­a­min bomb. There­fore, it is also ide­al for a healthy and bal­anced diet. Two oranges a day already cov­er the rec­om­mend­ed dai­ly require­ment of vit­a­min C.

Also inter­est­ing is that the fruit was also used to treat dis­eases in the past.

The ori­gin, prop­er­ties and his­to­ry of the orange

The orange has its ori­gin in Chi­na. Its name is also due to its ori­gin, because actu­al­ly the orange is also known as orange (apple from China).

The orange, like the tan­ger­ine or lemon, is a cit­rus fruit. In itself, the orange is actu­al­ly a cross between the tan­ger­ine and the grape­fruit. Numer­ous cit­rus fruits have only been cre­at­ed through crossbreeding.

The orange reached Europe by sea in the Mid­dle Ages. We have the Por­tuguese to thank for this, who dis­cov­ered the deli­cious fruit on their way to India in East Africa.

Mean­while, the orange is one of the most com­mon­ly grown cit­rus fruits. They are main­ly cul­ti­vat­ed in the trop­ics and sub­trop­ics. Right at the top here is Brazil. We source our oranges from the Mediter­ranean region, such as Spain.

The orange tree can grow up to 10 meters high and is ever­green. One tree can pro­duce up to 200 kg of fruit in a year. When ripe, the fruit has an orange peel on the out­side, which is waxy. From the inside, the skin is white and the tis­sue is spongy. The flesh of the orange con­sists of seg­ments sur­round­ed by the white spongy tis­sue. The flesh can have dif­fer­ent col­ors, for exam­ple, in blood orange it is dark red. The main sea­son for oranges is from Novem­ber to March. How­ev­er, they are avail­able all year round.

The ingre­di­ents of the orange

Oranges con­tain a lot of min­er­als and vit­a­mins and con­sist of 80 % of water. Par­tic­u­lar­ly note­wor­thy is the high amount of vit­a­min C. On 100 g of oranges are 50 mg of vit­a­min C. The dai­ly require­ment of vit­a­min C is offi­cial­ly 100 g. Thus, two oranges a day would cov­er the com­plete dai­ly require­ment of vit­a­min C.

In addi­tion to vit­a­min C, vit­a­mins of the B group and vit­a­min A are also found in the fruit. It also pro­vides min­er­als such as cal­ci­um, potas­si­um, mag­ne­sium, sodi­um and iron. In addi­tion to vit­a­mins and min­er­als, the orange also has numer­ous sec­ondary plant com­pounds, such as flavonoids and carotenoids.

The effect of oranges on our body

Oranges are ide­al for a healthy and bal­anced diet, as they are vit­a­min bombs. Espe­cial­ly in the win­ter time, when the fruit is par­tic­u­lar­ly pop­u­lar, it is impor­tant to take enough vitamins.

Already cen­turies ago, peo­ple rec­og­nized how valu­able oranges are for tra­di­tion­al med­i­cine, because the fruit is con­sid­ered an ancient rem­e­dy. At that time, they were used not only as a source of vit­a­min C, but also to treat dis­eases such as tuber­cu­lo­sis, heart dis­ease, high blood pres­sure and depression.

It is now proven that the orange is effec­tive against bac­te­ria and virus­es, can pre­vent can­cer and car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases, as well as ben­e­fit the psyche.

The con­tained vit­a­min C is par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant for our body, as it strength­ens our immune sys­tem and is impor­tant for bones and con­nec­tive tis­sue. In addi­tion, vit­a­min C sup­ports the absorp­tion of iron, which in turn is impor­tant for the trans­port of oxy­gen in the blood.

Against anx­i­ety, fatigue and stress, the orange, or orange essen­tial oil can also help. Essen­tial oils are used in aro­ma and scent ther­a­pies and are found in the peel of the orange.

Oranges in the kitchen

The deli­cious fruit is ver­sa­tile in the kitchen. For exam­ple, it can be made into orange mar­malade or orange sauce. The grat­ed peel is espe­cial­ly pop­u­lar for refin­ing cakes, cook­ies, muffins. But also in desserts such as orange cream, fruit sal­ad and tiramisu you can find the orange.

Prob­a­bly the best known use of the orange is pro­cess­ing the fruit into a refresh­ing orange juice or smoothie.

Pur­chase and stor­age of oranges

The qual­i­ty should be giv­en spe­cial atten­tion when buy­ing oranges. Good qual­i­ty is indi­cat­ed by a thick, healthy and undam­aged look­ing peel. It is bet­ter to keep your hands off shriv­eled oranges. The best way to test this is to hold the fruit in your hand and apply light pres­sure. A good orange yields slight­ly to light pres­sure and lies heav­i­ly in the hand.

Oranges must be stored in a cool and airy place. This way they will keep for a few weeks. It is impor­tant to check them dai­ly for rot­ten spots. To extend the shelf life of oranges, they can also be frozen or dried. How­ev­er, when freez­ing, it should be not­ed that the con­sis­ten­cy, taste and aro­ma will change. If you decide to dry the fruit, you should also remem­ber that dried fruit is unhealth­i­er, because the water is removed and the sug­ar con­tent increases.

Wal­nut — Crunchy powerhouse

The wal­nut tree is one of the old­est trees in the world. Its fruits, the wal­nuts, are very healthy for our body and also a real brainfood.

Wal­nuts con­tain a lot of fat, but these are unsat­u­rat­ed fat­ty acids and there­fore healthy fats. Thus they have a pos­i­tive effect on our heart. But they also keep our brain fit due to the vit­a­mins they contain.

The ori­gin, prop­er­ties and his­to­ry of walnut

The wal­nut tree orig­i­nat­ed in Asia and is one of the old­est trees on earth. It is assumed that it already exist­ed in the Ice Age. Archae­ol­o­gists assume that the Stone Age peo­ple col­lect­ed wal­nuts for sur­vival in case there was no hunt­ing prey. In the Neolith­ic peri­od, the wal­nut was con­sid­ered a sym­bol of fer­til­i­ty by the Romans and Greeks.

A wal­nut tree can grow up to 30 meters high. The fruits, i.e. the wal­nuts, are sur­round­ed by a green shell, which usu­al­ly bursts open by itself when the nut is ripe. Usu­al­ly the nuts are ripe at the end of Sep­tem­ber and begin­ning of Octo­ber. Once they break free from the shell, they can be picked up from the ground. The taste of the wal­nut is sweet­ish to slight­ly bit­ter. The wal­nut is cul­ti­vat­ed world­wide in tem­per­ate cli­mates. Here in Ger­many, the wal­nut is main­ly found in the south in the wine-grow­ing regions. There­fore, we obtain our wal­nuts main­ly from the USA and France.

The ingre­di­ents of the walnut

The wal­nut has a fat con­tent of 60 % and is there­fore very high in calo­ries. On 100 g wal­nuts come 674 kcal. Although the nut is very fat­ty, it is impor­tant to remem­ber that these are healthy fats. Because it has monoun­sat­u­rat­ed and polyun­sat­u­rat­ed fat­ty acids, includ­ing omega‑3 fat­ty acids. Com­pared to oth­er nuts, wal­nuts con­tain by far the high­est amount of omega‑3 fat­ty acids.

In addi­tion to healthy fats, the nut also con­tains vit­a­mins of the B group and vit­a­min E. Oth­er impor­tant ingre­di­ents are also zinc, mag­ne­sium, iron, potas­si­um and calcium.

The effect of wal­nuts on our body

It has long been known that nuts are healthy. But why is that so? Wal­nuts have many healthy ingre­di­ents that have a pos­i­tive effect on many areas of our body, such as the heart and brain.

Wal­nuts have a very pos­i­tive effect on our heart. On the one hand, this is due to the omega‑3 fat­ty acids they con­tain. These can pre­vent cal­ci­fi­ca­tion of the arter­ies and thus reduce the risk of a heart attack. On the oth­er hand, reg­u­lar con­sump­tion of wal­nuts can pre­vent car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases, because wal­nuts low­er the cho­les­terol lev­el. This keeps the blood ves­sels flex­i­ble and our blood can flow bet­ter through the body.

Wal­nuts are good for the brain. Thanks to the con­tained vit­a­min B, the con­sump­tion of nuts pro­motes con­cen­tra­tion, low­ers stress lev­els and pro­vides ener­gy. In addi­tion, our men­tal and motor skills are improved and the brain is pro­tect­ed from a decline in per­for­mance in old age.

Wal­nuts can reduce the risk of can­cer. The empha­sis is on “can”, because there is not yet suf­fi­cient research in this regard. How­ev­er, the fact is that wal­nuts con­tain polyphe­nol. Polyphe­nols help the body regen­er­ate. In addi­tion, the body con­verts polyphe­nols into ellag­ic acid, which in turn has an anti-inflam­ma­to­ry effect.

Wal­nuts sup­port mus­cle build­ing. As already men­tioned, the nuts con­tain healthy fats and car­bo­hy­drates. In addi­tion, they are a veg­etable source of pro­tein, because they pro­vide the body with a lot of pro­tein. Wal­nuts are very healthy, but you should not over­do it and stick to the rec­om­mend­ed dai­ly amount of eight whole walnuts.

Wal­nuts in the kitchen

The healthy nuts can be used very ver­sa­tile in the kitchen. You can enjoy them raw or roast­ed, in sal­ads, pas­ta, bread, cakes, as a snack or top­ping. Wal­nut ice cream is also par­tic­u­lar­ly deli­cious. In addi­tion, they are also avail­able as oil, liqueur, liquor or nut water. Basi­cal­ly, it can be said that wal­nuts round off spe­cial­ties, such as hon­ey or cheese.

Wal­nut storage

Wal­nuts like it cool and dark, such as in the cel­lar. They keep like this for months. It is best to store them in a mesh bag so that they still get air.

If you go to pick up the wal­nuts them­selves, so they should be very well dried before storage.

You can rec­og­nize bad wal­nuts by their smell and appear­ance. These smell ran­cid and have dark to black dis­col­orations. In this case, the bad ones must be sort­ed out from the good ones, as they may con­tain tox­ic molds.

Gar­lic — A bulb with a smell

It is hard to imag­ine Mediter­ranean, Mid­dle East­ern and Asian cui­sine with­out gar­lic. But it is not only good for sea­son­ing and refin­ing, it is also said to have health-pro­mot­ing prop­er­ties. In the Mid­dle Ages, for exam­ple, gar­lic was used to treat the plague. The Egyp­tians thought that the bulb would help you gain more strength. Today we know that gar­lic does not help us to gain more mus­cles, but it can, for exam­ple, slow down the aging process and it has a pos­i­tive effect on our blood and heart.

The ori­gin, prop­er­ties and his­to­ry of garlic

Gar­lic orig­i­nat­ed in Cen­tral Asia and has been around for 5,000 years. From Cen­tral Asia it spread across the Mid­dle East until it final­ly found its way to Europe.

Gar­lic was once con­sid­ered a rem­e­dy. Thus, the Egyp­tians believed that gar­lic would give the body more strength. The Romans used gar­lic against athlete’s foot. In Chi­na, too, gar­lic was used very ear­ly as a rem­e­dy. Basi­cal­ly, it was used every­where for the same: diges­tive dis­or­ders, res­pi­ra­to­ry dis­eases, infec­tions of all kinds, snake bites, worm infes­ta­tion and gen­er­al states of weakness.

Gar­lic was also used to treat dis­eases. For exam­ple, in the Mid­dle Ages, the tuber was used to treat the plague and also lat­er dis­eases such as scurvy or rheumatism.

In botany, gar­lic is clas­si­fied as a mem­ber of the alli­um fam­i­ly. The plant can reach a size of up to 90 cm. Under the ground, gar­lic forms a bulb, also known as the main gar­lic clove. Around the main clove, from five to twen­ty oth­er cloves are arranged in a cir­cle. These are sur­round­ed by a very thin red­dish, pur­ple or white sheath. Togeth­er, they form the clas­sic bulb. In terms of taste, gar­lic is unique, pun­gent and aro­mat­ic. There­fore, it is now hard to imag­ine kitchens with­out it as a spice.

In the mean­time, gar­lic is grown all over the world. The sea­son for the alli­um is from June to August.

The ingre­di­ents of garlic

The gar­lic cloves are full of effec­tive ingre­di­ents. Par­tic­u­lar­ly note­wor­thy is the con­tained sul­fu­ric amon­ic acid “alli­in”. A fresh bulb can car­ry up to 1 % alliin.

By crush­ing the gar­lic clove con­tains allicin. The crush­ing process releas­es a chem­i­cal reac­tion, so the alli­in is con­vert­ed into allicin with the help of the enzyme alli­nase. Allicin has many ben­e­fi­cial prop­er­ties, but this ingre­di­ent is also respon­si­ble for the smell and taste of garlic.

The effect of gar­lic on our body

Accord­ing to sci­en­tists, the “super bulb” has health-pro­mot­ing prop­er­ties. Gar­lic is said to have a mild antivi­ral effect and inhib­it the growth of bac­te­ria and fungi.

In addi­tion, the tuber is also attrib­uted a blood-thin­ning effect. This has the effect of inhibit­ing blood clot­ting. This in turn has a pos­i­tive effect on our body, as it strength­ens our cir­cu­la­tion and also reduces the for­ma­tion of blood clots, which in turn pre­vent heart attacks.

In addi­tion, gar­lic can pos­i­tive­ly influ­ence our car­dio­vas­cu­lar sys­tem. Indeed, the sul­fur com­pounds it con­tains can reduce blood lipid lev­els. Stud­ies also show that gar­lic has blood pres­sure low­er­ing properties.

As already men­tioned, the most impor­tant ingre­di­ent in gar­lic is allicin. Allicin is con­sid­ered a nat­ur­al antibi­ot­ic because it has ger­mi­ci­dal prop­er­ties. It scav­enges free rad­i­cals and pro­tects our cell mem­branes from dam­age. This can also slow down the aging process. The advan­tage of this nat­ur­al antibi­ot­ic is that, unlike chem­i­cal antibi­otics, the intesti­nal flo­ra is not attacked and thus a healthy intesti­nal flo­ra is promoted.

Anoth­er health-pro­mot­ing effect of gar­lic is that it is a good source of sele­ni­um. Sele­ni­um is a trace ele­ment. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant for the immune sys­tem, healthy skin and nails, and metabolism.

Gar­lic in the kitchen

Gar­lic refines almost every dish and is there­fore also one of the most impor­tant spices. In the Mediter­ranean, Mid­dle East­ern and Asian cui­sine, gar­lic is almost indispensable.

You can use gar­lic to refine or sea­son meat and veg­etable dish­es but also sal­ads, pas­ta dish­es or sauces and dips are round­ed off with the spice.

Gar­lic is processed dif­fer­ent­ly from dish to dish. Some­times whole cloves are added or the dish is refined with gar­lic oil. Very pop­u­lar is also the gar­lic gran­ules (pow­der), as this does not smell as intru­sive as a fresh clove. The most com­mon way is prob­a­bly chop­ping the cloves.

It is a good idea to light­ly crush the gar­lic with a flat object, such as a kitchen knife, before peel­ing. This makes it much eas­i­er to peel the gar­lic, as often even the peel comes off almost by itself.

When sautéing or saute­ing, be care­ful not to burn the gar­lic, as this will cause it to devel­op a bit­ter taste and become inedible.

Gar­lic storage

Gar­lic can be stored well and for a long time. At room tem­per­a­ture, it keeps fresh for one to two months. How­ev­er, it is bet­ter to store gar­lic in the veg­etable com­part­ment of the refrig­er­a­tor, where it can not dry out.

One way to pre­serve gar­lic for a long time is to pick­le it in oil.