Science Confirms Ancient Folklore by Kelsey Barrett

It’s easy to take for granted our common kitchen herbs. However many of these plants have been traveling with humans and embedded into our culture for thousands of years. Winter wellness herbal medicine is chalked full of plants with reverential folklore, festivals held in their honor, poetry written in their name, and simple yet delicious medicinal dense recipes.

Let's look at the beloved kitchen spice garlic, known to ward off not only vampires, but devils, werewolves and the evil eye in Central European and Middle Eastern folklore. Folk traditions invoke these magical protective qualities of garlic by smearing the paste around the corners of windows and keyholes and eating the garlic whole in Spring. We now know that garlics organosulfur compounds which give garlic's its pungent odor, also give garlic its antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, hypotensive qualities. Garlic can even bind to heavy metals!

I love when science confirms ancient folklore. Consider this full permission to embrace the taste, smell and traditional uses of garlic in the home. Enjoy this traditional Lebanese garlic spread, toum, all Winter long.

Traditional Toum Garlic Spread Recipe

Embrace the taste, smell, and traditional use of garlic in your home all winter long with this Lebanese garlic spread, toum.

Embrace the taste, smell, and traditional use of garlic in your home all winter long with Lebanese garlic spread, toum.


  • 1.5 cups olive oil
  • 1/2 cup garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice
  • 1/8 cup ice water


  • Place the garlic and salt in a food processor. Pulse garlic until finely minced.
  • Pour in lemon juice in a slow stream while the food processor is running from the top opening of the food processor.
  • With the food processor continuing to run, slowly add the olive oil and alternate with small amounts of ice water.
  • Drizzle about ¼ cup of the oil very slowly and then 1 tablespoon of ice water. Continue this process until all the oil and water have been incorporated and the texture is fluffy!

Download the PDF Recipe

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About Kelsey Barrett

Kelsey Barrett is a western clinical herbalist, organic gardener, and traditional food enthusiast. 

Kelsey is the Director of Herbal Education at Land of Verse.