A Few of My Favorite Garlics

| August/September 2008

  • Garlic is beautiful from bulb to bud. Clockwise from left: bulbs of Silverskin, Porcelain, Artichoke and Creole groups.
    Ted Jordan Meredith, courtesy of Timber Press
  • Striking flower stalks (or scapes) of garlic emerge in late spring; remove them before they curl to promote underground growth.
    Ted Jordan Meredith, courtesy of Timber Press

We are in the midst of a garlic renaissance. Never before have more garlic cultivars been so widely available and so widely appreciated. Among the hundreds of different varieties in 11 horticultural groups, the following garlics are my recommendations for different needs. Because climate, growing practices and storage conditions all affect the way garlic performs, many other cultivars might work as well or better for you. Use these suggestions as a point of departure for your own explorations. In time, you will develop your own list of favorites.

Early Harvest
Turban cultivars are the earliest-harvested garlics. They might not have the richest flavor, but I find the juicy cloves of fresh Turbans are most welcome after weeks of gleaning the past season’s harvest of other varieties. Try: ‘Luster’, ‘Shandong’ or ‘Uzbek Turban’.

Tolerant of Severe Winters
The vigorously bolting hardneck garlics (which are closely related to the wild strains of Central Asia) are best adapted to survive harsh winters. These include cultivars of Purple Stripe, Porcelain, Marbled Purple Stripe and Rocambole groups.

Tolerant of Hot Climates 
Garlic needs a period of cool temperatures to develop bulbs, but some types need a shorter cooling period than others. Garlics from the Artichoke group are among the best for regions with warm winters and springs. Cultivars from the Creole group also do well in hot areas, but their bulbs are generally smaller.

Excellent Flavor, Long Storing 
Many cultivars in the Creole group store very well and have excellent taste. I’ve eaten Creoles that had been in storage for more than a year, and though not in their prime, still had good flavor. Try: ‘Burgundy’, ‘Creole Red’, ‘Manuel Benitee’, ‘Pescadero Red’ or ‘Rojo de Castro’.

Exceptionally Long Storing 
Garlic cultivars from the Silverskin group can be stored the longest. Their flavors vary, depending on growing conditions and storage, but usually they are hot and aggressive without the complexity of other garlic groups. Silverskins taste best when minced and sautéed to a light straw color. Try: ‘Locati’, ‘Nootka Rose’ or ‘Rose du Var’.

10/15/2015 11:38:53 PM

There is a company in Colorado that also has natural Garlic. They are called the Garlic Guys and their site can be found here: http://www.thegarlicguys.com/

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