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Varieties of Garlic | Garlic Passion

Varieties of Garlic

Lucia on Sep 17th

Hmm. I’m in a quandary. I want to get some kind of exotic garlic as a thank you present for Granny’s friend Dinah. Aunt Dinah’s been sweet enough to teach me what she knows about cooking, and she knows an awful lot. She likes garlic so much that she grows her own in her backyard.

After some thought, I decided a sampler of different kinds of garlic would make a perfect gift. The trouble was I couldn’t find anything at the store other than the white bulbs I usually buy.

I cranked up my trusty computer and let my fingers do the clicking for a little Net shopping expedition. I first learned more about the pungent member of the allium family, that’s the onion family in case you’re wondering. Wow. There’s over 600 different kinds of garlic, but most are varieties of two subspecies–hard-necked and soft-necked. Sounds funny, doesn’t it?

The hard-necked garlics are the original garlics, and the soft-necked are cultivated varieties derived from the hard-necked. Sounds even funnier.

Fortunately, not all those hundreds of varieties are sold so that’ll make it a bit easier to choose a few for the gift sampler I’m putting together.

Thank goodness for online shopping because I wouldn’t be finding any of these at the local supermarket. After more reading, I found the varieties I wanted.

Elephant garlic is one choice. I just like its name. I imagine it’s like the song from that old musical. Something about corn is “higher than an elephant’s eye.” Maybe Elephant Garlic is that tall.

Uh oh. I see elephant garlic is not really a member of the garlic family. It’s Allium Ampeloprasum which is the leek family. Garlics are all part of the Allium Sativum family. I thought it might be stronger tasting than regular garlic, but it’s actually milder because it’s not a true garlic. I don’t care. I’m getting it anyway.

It’s just so big. One clove is probably bigger than a whole head of the garlic in my kitchen. I can’t wait to see a head of elephant garlic that weighs nearly a pound. I bet Aunt Dinah will like it too. She eats a lot of salads, and it’s supposed to be good raw since it is much milder.

Let’s see. Some real garlic now. Hmm. Six hard-necked varieties with different garlics in each. Which to pick? Asiatic, Creole, Porcelain, Purple Stripe or maybe Marbled Purple Strip? Rocambole–that sounds exotic.

The Purple Stripe variety is pretty, and they have such interesting names like Siberian and Persian Star. Apparently the climate causes that purple color. The flavor is supposed to be rich, but not too strong. That might be a good complement for the milder Elephant garlic.

Oh, and Porcelain. They’re supposed to be beautiful to look at and eat. Big, fat cloves. Strong taste. Okay. That kind of moves up the taste scale.

Now maybe I’ll pick a soft-necked. Interesting. Only two varieties. Artichoke and Silverskin. Oh, so the ones I see in the supermarket are Artichoke varieties. Guess that makes sense because it says they’re so easy to grow. Nice names like Simoneti, Susanville, and Purple Cauldron, but I want something different.

Guess that makes my last choice Silverskin Garlic. Oh, super. These are the ones that are sold braided. Aunt Dinah didn’t have a braided garlic. And they’re hot and strong so that’s the top of the flavor scale. Cool.

With my order placed, I went in search of my book of quotations. I like adding a nice appropriate quote to the cards I write, and a good quotations reference book helps tremendously.

After a few minutes of browsing I found what I wanted. French chef Louis Diat had said: “There are five elements: earth, air, fire, water and garlic.”

I carried the book to my desk, opened the box of thank you notes, and started writing.

I’m pretty sure Aunt Dinah agrees with the chef.

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