Garlic is the bulb of a delicate plant with snowy white flowers. The bulb is composed of eight to twelve sections called cloves that are individually wrapped in a parchment-like covering, tightly bound together and attached at the base.
Garlic should have firm, tight bulbs that are plump with no signs of sprouting, shriveling, soft spots, or broken skin. Its color is not an indicator of quality. Try to use fresh garlic within a few weeks and do not refrigerate unless the garlic has been peeled or chopped.
Garlic is an aromatic and is used to enhance the flavor of many savory dishes. Leaving cloves whole gives a subtle garlic flavor, while slicing and chopping increases the aroma and flavor. Mincing or using a garlic press gets the maximum flavor from the garlic.