Harvest Garlic Like a Pro

| October/November 2011

  • Harvest garlic like a pro.
    Photo by Povy Kendal Atchison

Decades ago, the jar of garlic powder—a staple in my kitchen at the time—ran empty, so I improvised by mixing freshly minced garlic with softened butter. The difference was immediately discernable—deep, rich and complex, with a distinctive flavor and freshness. Fresh garlic became a kitchen and garden standard that day, and I’ve never looked back.

Lemon-Mustard Salmon 
Garlic-Rosemary Focaccia
Roasted Garlic
Warm Spinach & Arugula Salad with Garlic-Balsamic Dressing
Kale, Potato & White Bean Soup 

Know Your Type

Garlic comprises two main categories: hardnecks and softnecks. (Elephant garlic is actually a type of leek.) Hardnecks, which thrive where winters are cold, are believed to be the original descendants from wild garlic, sending up a flower stalk as they mature. The cloves are typically larger, more flavorful, and easier to peel than softnecks.

A few choice varieties include ‘German Red’, with a hot and spicy flavor favored by chefs; ‘Northern White’, an extremely winter-hardy variety ideal for baking; ‘Spanish Roja’, with rich, spicy true garlic flavor; ‘Russian Red’, one of the best storing hardnecks; and ‘Purple Italian Easy Peel’, with a rich zesty flavor and sweet aftertaste.

Softnecks grow well in a wide range of climates and growing conditions. Tight skins make them harder to peel, but also make them good for long storage. Given the right conditions, many softneck varieties can easily keep for up to a year. Due to their pliable stems, softnecks are always the best choice when you want to grow garlic for braiding.

Softneck ‘Inchelium Red’ stores for up to nine months, and is tops for its mild lingering flavor that sharpens with storage. The strong and pungent flavor of ‘Italian Late’ keeps well in storage, and some growers and crafters say this variety is one of the best for braiding. ‘Oregon Blue’ is a highly productive Northwest heirloom with a hot, spirited flavor. Extra-early maturing ‘Chinese Pink’ offers fine quality cloves with a nice mellow flavor.

11/2/2013 10:01:33 PM

great article!! I live in an apartment, so I can not have a garden, but I have a medium sized plastic pot that I am growing garlic in....and the stem is just now starting to poke through the soil!! I grow garlic, as well as other herbs for cooking/baking, to give me something to do...there's not much to do here in this apartment, so growing my herbs(each in their own pot...all 22 of them!) keeps me busy & keeps the insanity of boredom at bay. After I harvest this batch of Garlic, I will refer back to this article, to create a better environment for my garlic...and other herbs as well.

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