In preparation for a garlic talk I gave for my local Smith Alumnae Club, I was lucky enough to get one of each type of heirloom garlic grown at my community garden this year — freshly harvested, cleaned and dried. There are 13 different types and I am determined to get to know the unique qualities each one offers. Most of them are hardneck varieties which are very flavorful and have a shelf life of 4-6 months. I will plant some of these and eat the rest. Rosedale Community will have all these varieties for sale at their annual sale in September. The garden is also planning a garlic tasting event for October. For more information, check out the website at http://www.rosedalegarden.org.
Although I am a garlic lover and use it frequently in my cooking, I am not yet an expert on which varieties to use for what dishes. Like wine, there is a whole frontier of garlic variation to explore. Right now, I do know that Thermadrone is very popular in French cooking for its mild Dijon flavor. And, Spanish Roja is very popular in the U.S.
As a start, I have been growing heirloom garlic in my garden for several years — although the tags on my 2014 planting faded during the winter so I am not sure which is which. I will attempt to compare my newly harvested bulbs to the ones I got from Rosedale and if possible, make a taste comparision. In any case, growing my own organic garlic is a step up from buying the usual California Late and California Early available at the local grocery store. Its my mission this year to move up into the ranks of garlic afficionado and share some of my new found knowledge with my friends and family. I would love to hear about your experiences growing and eating different varieties of garlic. Go!!
Here is what the individual varieties look like close up: