Monash University Suggested Serving: None, sort of. Read on. Seriously, don’t give up!
Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon or hardneck garlic and A. sativum var. sativum) or softneck garlic – Ah garlic. If there is one ingredient that gets FODMAPers talking, it is garlic. Mostly because it is a Monash Red Light food, filled with tons of fructans and even 1/2 a garlic clove (1 g) is a no-no. That tiny amount is enough to trigger IBS symptoms in those who are sensitive.
But I LOVE Garlic!
We do too, which is why we get as creative as possible, bringing you garlic flavor without the fructans. No, this isn’t a magic trick. It is science! The havoc-wreaking fructans are water soluble but NOT OIL SOLUBLE. This means that as our Garlic-Infused Oil demonstrates, that when you combine garlic and oil (a fat) that all that great garlic flavor infuses into the oil and then you can use that oil in your cooking – once the garlic solids are all removed.
No Water or Liquids, Though
What you cannot do is leave the garlic solids in the oil and then go on to add other foods. Let’s say you sauté garlic in oil and then add a nice hunk of meat to brown. The water content of the meat would come into contact with the garlic pieces and the fructans would leach into your dish. Similarly, if you sauté the garlic in oil and then add a bunch of veggies and broth to make a soup, all the water content in the vegetables and the liquid broth would draw out the fructans and you would be left with a high FODMAP soup.
But, Have No Fear
But, fear not as there is a solution. You could start with a homemade or purchased low FODMAP Garlic-Infused Oil or, as suggested above, you could start your dish by sautéeing some fresh garlic in oil and then REMOVE ALL THE GARLIC PIECES before proceeding and adding any other ingredients. You would have essentially made a fresh batch of garlic-infused oil, which is low FODMAP compliant and safe to use.
Are You Excited Yet?
So go ahead and make your Nana’s pot roast or Dad’s famous marinara. There ARE ways to incorporate garlic into you low FODMAP life. You will see that throughout FODMAP Everyday that we have many low FODMAP recipes, many of them even contain garlic in its “safe” form.
How to Buy & Store
Supermarkets will typically have one kind of fresh garlic. For more information on hardneck vs softneck, see Varieties below.
Garlic is available year-round, but it does have a season. Look for fresh garlic during mid-summer and into early fall. If you have the opportunity to visit Gilroy, CA, the garlic capital of the world, you will be in for a garlicky experience – probably not the best place for a FODMAPer, unless you and fructans are on good terms.
Look for firm, unblemished bulbs, also called heads. Give the bulb a gentle squeeze. None of the cloves should be feel soft and if there is any sign of shriveling, dehydration or any sort of hollowness, choose another bulb. Also bypass any bulbs sporting sprouts, which indicates that the bulbs are older. You can also snip the sprouts off, but it is best if they are not there in the first place.
Store at a cool room temperature and keep the bulbs dry. Do not refrigerate. It is best to use fresh garlic within a week or two after purchase.
How to Prep & Use
Garlic heads or bulbs are covered with a papery skin which holds separate cloves together inside the head, each of which is also covered with a moister skin.
Usually, you will not be using the whole head at once, so you need to be able to get at the number of garlic cloves that you need. We typically use one of two techniques:
- Place head on counter on its side. Place palm of hand on top of side of bulb and apply very firm pressure downwards. The head should “pop” open and individual cloves will be accessible.
- Depending on type of garlic (soft vs. hardneck) and its relative freshness, the above technique might not be vigorous enough. Alternatively, you can use your fingers to peel away the outer layers of skin first, then try the above technique, or to apply more pressure, place the broad side of a heavy chef’s knife on the side of the peeled head and smash down on it with palm open (avoiding blade, of course).
Once the cloves are exposed and/or separated from one another you can peel each individual one with your fingers or use the chef’s knife technique to release the skins, then peel the loosened skin off easily with fingers.
If you use fresh garlic in any way to cook, even in approved recipes like our Garlic-Infused Oil, always remember to remove any and all garlic solids before using or eating.
Garlic Powder & Garlic Salt
As both garlic powder and garlic salt contain actual garlic solids, albeit pulverized, they are not recommended while following the low FODMAP diet,
Not all oils that are garlic flavored are necessarily compliant with a low FODMAP diet. Please read our article on recommended and non-recommended commercially prepared oils.
As already pointed out, there are two general categories of garlic, hardneck and soft. Overall there are hundreds of names, but they all derive from a few basic types of garlic, based on their genetics.
Hardnecks, seen above, are so-called because they form a stiff neck around which the cloves and bulb form. They are cold weather tolerant and tend to have maybe 6 to 12 cloves within each head. Their flavors can range from fairly mild to very potent.
Softnecks have smaller but more numerous cloves within each head, sometimes as many as 16 or more. If you have ever seen a garlic braid, as shown below, it is always made from softneck garlic. Curiously, while this type needs a more temperate climate for growing, the actual bulbs can last a little longer in storage.
The garlic found in most U.S. supermarkets, buy the way, is a softneck variety mostly because it is easier to grow as they mature faster and they keep longer as well, making them overall less expensive to produce and sell. Supermarket garlic is often imported from Asia, very often from China.
The main hardneck varieties are porcelain, purple stripe and rocambole.
The main softneck varieties are silverskin and artichoke.
You might see garlic with any number of names, such as Creole Red, Chelote, Iberian, Majestic, Persian Star, Kettle River Giant or Metechi. They are all either hardneck or softneck and will vary in looks (color, size, etc.) and potency of flavor.
Elephant garlic (Allium ampeloprasum var. ampeloprasum), by the way, is actually a type of leek, although it is the same Genus (Allium) as true garlic.