Scientists discover the key to garlicy-ness

26 Aug 2020

Researchers from Virginia Tech have discovered a biological process in garlic that creates allicin and that may lead to the creation of bulbs with differing levels of pungency. The scientists also said this discovery can contribute to farmers having better control over harvest production and more consistent crops.

This discovery opens the door to R&D professionals to craft strains of garlic that are more or less malordous and garlicy, according to a consumer’s preference. With the ability to regulate the level of pungency in garlic, farmers will also be better able to assess the quality of a crop; currently, it requires cutting into the flavorful allium to determine its strength.

Scientists discover the key to garlicy-ness
Image via Mockup Graphics on Unsplash

Consistent levels of garlicy-ness will not only be advantageous for farmers, but it will also be a welcome change for manufacturers that use garlic in a variety of packaged products. From pasta sauce to frozen entrees, garlic is a frequently used herb whose fluctuations in strength can cause headaches for companies. With garlic that is not only homogenous but can come in a variety of strengths, it may expand the number of applications that this herb can be used in.

It can also lead to manufacturers favoring stronger strains in order to use less garlic overall – something that has the potential to benefit manufacturers’ bottom lines. Using less quantity of an ingredient can improve cost margins in normal times, but may be especially welcome during the pandemic as garlic has been in short supply which has pushed prices up.

Steep prices for a popular herb that has been linked to immunity-boosting qualities and features a profile full of antioxidant properties will affect not only companies using garlic commercially but also individual consumers. Garlic is featured heavily in kitchens around the world and has only gained popularity in recent years. Data from Blue Book and Agtools Inc. show garlic volume sales rising over the past three years.

Food Ingredients First reported that the scientists are interested in pursuing the characterization of enzymes that produce a similar function to garlic’s allicin. They said they would specifically like to look at onions.

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