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Garlic trials

Posted by mrclint z10SoCal Valley (My Page) on
Sun, Nov 3, 13 at 13:14

This year I'm trialing four new garlics along with the standard store bought California garlic that I've been growing for a few years. I had some left over cloves of each variety after planting out this weekend, and decided to do some small sample taste tests. Mostly just to see if any of the varieties jumped out in any way.

The first test was just nibbling on raw cloves with a palate cleanse of red wine (what I am most likely to use at dinner). The second test was micro-planed garlic in an olive oil drizzle, then a chunk of ciabatta was dipped into the mix, again with a red wine cleanse.

The mildest garlic overall was Shilla. It was much milder than the Cali garlic, which I'm using as the baseline. I'm unclear why I would want a milder garlic when all I need to do is use less of a hotter variety. The hottest of the new varieties was Matskij, but it was not much hotter than my grow out Cali garlic. The Matskij did have some bitter overtones in the olive oil and ciabatta portion of the tests.

The two varieties that fell in the middle of the pack where Rose de Lautrec and Blanco Piacenza.

At this point I'm not ready to announce that garlic is garlic, but the lines of demarcation appear to be in degrees of heat and/or bitterness. There just wasn't a clear cut winner to unseat my grow out of store bought California garlic.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Garlic trials

I never eat raw garlic. I only use them in cooking and saute. ONCE IN A GREAT WHILE I BAKE SOME.
With just about any saute and pan fry I use some garlic. Honestly, I have not yet developed a trained palate to make distinction between them.

When it comes to heat, one can argue the other way around: WHY BOTHER WITH HOTTER ONES, JUST USE MORE OF THE MILDER ONES.

I have grown various store bought varieties in the past which turned out to be some artichokes and Asian. in terms of size, they were almost comparable. My understanding is that the ones sold in store must be ok. otherwise they would not grow them. Maybe next year I'll try something that is really special.

RE: Garlic trials

I agree that the differences among garlic tastes are subtle, with heat differences dominating the comparisons. I've tried raw garlic taste tests and found my results to be very inconsistent since my poor tongue is burned senseless after the first few bites. It took me years to develop a discriminating palate for red wines, and I don't see why I would do the same with raw garlic when I only use it in cooking.

I just planted 180 cloves total yesterday of German Red, Estonian Red, and Russian Red here is southwestern VA, and today I'll plant another 180 cloves of Music. After trying dozens of varieties I am settling in to those that produce consistently large bulbs with 4-6 fat cloves. My emphasis is on yield (size), ease of use (peeling and clove size) and storage capability, rather than taste. Most of what I grow are chopped and frozen in thin flat ziplock freezer bags, and the rest is eaten fresh, roasted and frozen, dried and powered, and this year I'll try frozen in EV olive oil in ice cube trays.

You may want to give Music a try. Not sure how well it would do in SoCal, but it is very popular in the Northeast where is makes 2.5"+ bulbs with just 4-7 fat cloves. Plus as a hardneck it also delivers a crop on delicious scapes in June.


RE: Garlic trials

  • Posted by mrclint z10SoCal Valley (My Page) on
    Mon, Nov 4, 13 at 16:41

Thanks for the replies! We like raw fresh garlic in olive oil, sometimes with cracked black pepper added, as a dipping sauce for crusty bread. You have to really love garlic to do this, and we do. :)

No matter how many bell peppers you add to salsa, it will never get as spicy as if you added a few jalapenos instead. Same deal with garlic.

My mind is still open to the possibility that these garlics have redeeming qualities that I have yet to consider. Earliness, ease of peeling, hardiness, etc, are all worthy characteristics. Taste is a pretty big factor though for something that I intend to eat. :)

RE: Garlic trials

Don't forget length of storage. Those that will still be good come spring are a special bunch.

RE: Garlic trials

  • Posted by mrclint z10SoCal Valley (My Page) on
    Mon, Nov 11, 13 at 21:42

Shilla was indeed the mildest garlic in the taste test, and it is also the first to sprout so far. It might be a good choice for someone who wants a mild and early hardneck turban.

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