วันศุกร์ที่ 2 มกราคม พ.ศ. 2552

Overview of Garlic

A Garlic Overview



The Garlic Family Tree and Where Garlic Came fromGarlic isn't just garlic, there are many different kinds of garlic and they're almost all different in size, color, shape, taste, number of cloves per bulb, pungency and storability. Most Americans aren't aware of the many kinds since they seldom see more than one kind in the local supermarket. There are said to be over 600 cultivated sub-varieties of garlic in the world, although most of them may be selections of only a handful of basic types that have been grown widely and developed their own characteristics over the centuries as local growing conditions changed.

Botanists classify all true garlics under the species Allium Sativum. There are two subspecies; Ophioscorodon , or hard-necked garlics (Ophios for short) and Sativum , or soft-necked garlics. The hard-necked garlics were the original garlics and the soft-necked ones were developed or cultivated over the centuries by growers from the original hard-necks through a process of selection.

The latest research (2003) shows that ten fairly distinct varietal groups of garlic have evolved; five very different hardneck varieties called Porcelain, Purple Stripe, Marbled Purple Stripe, Glazed Purple Stripe, and Rocambole; three varieties of Weakly bolting hadnecks that often produce softnecks - Creole,Asiatic and Turban, plus two distinct softneck varietal groups; Artichoke and Silverskin. Our website has evolved to show this new structure (It was previously thought that there were only five groups.)

An earlier study classified garlic into 17 isozyme types, but that didn't work out satisfactorily. Apparently all of the hundreds of sub-varieties (separate cultivars) of garlic grown all over the world came from these ten basic groups or sub-varieties of hardnecks that evolved in the Caucasus Mountains between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. Their individual characteristics have been altered over time by careful (or accidental) selection and changing growing conditions, such as soil fertility, rainfall, temperature, altitude, length and severity of winter, etc. as they spread across Asia and Europe and the Asiatics and Turbans developed in the East, while the Creoles developed in Spainand southern France and Artichokes and Silverskins developed Italy and elsewhere in Europe.

This picture of the structure of the garlic family is by no means final as work continues to define it more accurately using a larger number of cultivars and this may lead to the identification of more clusters of sub-varieties.

How Did All These Garlics Get Here?
A few of the kinds of garlic now in America came in with Polish, German and Italian immigrants over the centuries, but most of them came in all at once in 1989. The USDA had been asking the Soviets for permission to go to the Caucasus region to collect garlics but permission had always been refused because there were many missile bases in the area and this was where their spaceport was and is.

Finally, as the Soviet Union was disintegrating in 1989, they suddenly invited the Americans in to collect the garlics. They were under continuous armed guard and were allowed to travel only at night so they wouldn't see anything of military importance. They went from village to village along the old Silk Road buying garlic from local markets and naming the cultivars after the town or village where they were purchased.

When they got back to the US, they realized they had no gardens ready in which to plant the garlic (The USDA plans things years in advance.) so they contracted out the growing to a few private growers on a share-the-garlic basis. After they crop was harvested and the USDA got their share, these growers began to trade with each other and to sell some to friends and other garlic growers and that is how they came to be available now when they were not available 15 or 20 years ago. There was no time for adequate phytosanitary precautions to be made so we don't really know what kinds of "hitchhikers" might have been brought in with them.

The above explanation also shows why these garlics are rare and expensive. Slowly more growers are beginning to grow these cultivars and as more of it is grown and the supply begins to catch up with the very great demand. Garlic lovers take one look at these delightful things and they feel an overwhelming urge to try them. In a few years, these gourmet garlics will be more widely grown and the price will eventually come down somewhat, but not as long as all growers are selling out in a short time.

Purple Stripe Garlics Purple Stripe garlics are ophios (hardnecks) and are usually vividly striped with purplish vertical stripes decorating the bulb wrappers, hence their name. In between the purple stripes, their bulb wrappers are usually very white and thick. Some sub-varieties are even heavily splotched with purple. Coloration is affected by growing conditions, particularly weather and sometimes they are strongly colored and at other times more white than purple.
They tend to be rather rich in flavor, but not overly pungent, though some are milder, and store fairly well. Standard Purple Stripes (Chesnok Red and Persian Star) make the sweetest roasted garlic. They mature about midway through the local harvest season although the larger ones may mature later. In addition to the standard purple stripes, there are two other groups of Purple Stripe varieties, the glazed group and the marbled group.

Both seem to have thicker bulb wrappers and fewer cloves per bulb than the standard group. Purple stripes can be very beautiful garlics that range from the very strong, such as Metechi or Skuri #2 or very mild, such as Siberian. Persian Star and Chesnok Red have a rich medium flavor

Allium Sativum Sativum (Soft-necked garlics) Artichoke Garlics Artichoke garlics (sativums or softnecks) are the kinds of garlics seen most in the supermarkets in our part of the country. California Early and California Late are grown in huge quantities around Gilroy, California and shipped all over the country and are the generic garlic that most people think of when they think of garlic. In fact, most people around our parts weren't even aware that there was more than one kind of garlic. We think artichoke garlics are among the easiest to grow and seem to less fussy about growing conditions than the others. They have lots of cloves, usually somewhere between 12 and 20, with lots of smaller internal cloves.



These are a favorite among people who want to use only a very small amount of garlic in a dish (although I can't imagine why). They appear to feel that if you can taste the garlic in a dish you have used too much and prefer to use the small inner cloves. Artichokes are generally very large, store well and have a wide range of flavors with some, like Simoneti and Red Toch, being very mild and pleasant and others, such as Inchelium Red and Susanville, have greater depth of flavor. Chinese Purple and Purple Cauldron are much stronger and stick around for a while. The Asiatic group of artichoke garlics tend to send up scapes, despite the fact that they're supposed to be softnecks and have a little more color to the bulb wrappers than the main group, which are usually very white.

The Turban group of artichoke garlics tend to be the most colorful artichokes and have fewer cloves per bulb than the others. The turbans also harvest earlier and store less long than the other artichokes and a good bit stronger in taste as well. Artichoke Garlics are the commercial growers favorite because they are easier to grow and produce larger bulbs that most other garlics. Artichokes are often called red garlics or Italian garlics despite the fact that most are neither red nor were ever grown in Italy. Most of the artichokes that have red as part of their name have no red in them, but we retain the word as it helps to describe exactly which cultivar we are discussing.

Silverskin Garlics Silverskin garlics are usually, but not always, the ones that you see in braids. Silverskins are generally the longest storing of all garlics and have a soft pliable neck that lends itself to braiding and holds up over time better than the artichokes whose necks tend to deteriorate earlier than the silverskins. They are usually fairly hot strong garlics with very few cultivars being mild. They are also usually the last ones to come out of the ground. Their bulb wrappers are very white although the clove covers can be strikingly beautiful as in the case of Nootka Rose or Rose du Var. Silverskins have more cloves per bulb, on the average, than the artichokes but are not nearly as large.


the Creole Garlics The Creole garlics are a unique and truly beautiful group of garlics. They are genetically related to Silverskins, but utterly unlike Silverskins in almost evert way. Botanists are having a hard time pinning them down - they are almost certainly a separate group unto themselves, but connected to other groups.

Creoles are downright gorgeous to look at and are one of the easiest eating raw garlics owing to a taste that is rich and full but only very moderate pungency (heat), though Creole Red and Ajo Rojo are noticeably stronger. They retain their flavor well when cooked. They have eight to twelve cloves per bulb arranged in a circular configuration. Both the bulb wrappers and the clove covers have a beautiful vivid rose color and I regard them to be as beautiful as the porcelain garlics even though their configuration is very different. They are easily grown in southern climates and are much more tolerant of adverse weather conditions than most garlics.

Porcelain Garlics - Picture to be Posted Soon. Porcelain garlics (ophios) are among the most beautiful garlics of all and sometimes seem too beautiful to eat. Their bulb wrappers tend to be very thick, luxuriant and parchment-like and tightly cover their few, but large, cloves. The outer bulb wrappers are often very white and tend to some purple striping as you peel away the wrappers. Their appearance tempts one to wonder whether they were sculpted by some great artist rather than something grown in the ground. There are few or no smaller cloves as most cloves are large and fat (typically only five really big cloves per bulb).

Porcelains are generally strong tasting garlics with a few exceptions and can store for up to eight months or more at cool room temperature, if grown well. Bulb wrappers vary from white/ivory (Zemo) to very purplish (Romanian Red). Clove covers have elongated tips and a golden brown color with some having distinctive vertical, purplish streaks.

Porcelains grow better up north than they do down south but still most southern growers can grow them some years.

Rocambole Garlics - Picture to be Posted Soon. Rocambole garlics tend to have thinner bulb wrappers than other ophios and lots of purple striping and splotches. They are not as white as other ophios and seem to have a brownish cast to them, in fact, some of them almost look as though they need a bath. What they lack in beauty, they are said to make up for in taste. Many people (including Ron Engeland-author of "Growing Great Garlic")consider them their favorite garlics. In the spring they send up a scape (stalk) that forms a complete double loop. They have usually six to eight cloves arranged in circular fashion about a central scape and have few or no smaller internal cloves.

Alas, we shall not know as they do not grow well in warmer climates such as ours. They require a colder winter and a cooler spring than we have here in central Texas. We have tried for years to southernize these garlics, but to no avail; they simply die in the ground. If you want to try these alleged culinary delights, we suggest you order them from Filaree Farms in north central Washington. Their primary drawback, other than being fussy about growing conditions, is that they are among the shortest storing garlics of all.

Garlic Which is Not Garlic Not all plants that some people think of as garlic is actually garlic of the species Allium Sativum. Elephant garlic is Allium ampeloprasum. Ramsons garlic is a broad-leaved wild garlic and is of the species allium ursinum. Crow garlic is a narrow-leafed smallish wild garlic of the species allium vineale. Garlic chives is of the species allium tuberosum.
99. Elephant Garlic - All Size Cloves Available Elephant garlic is sold as whole bulbs early in the season and later on it may be as loose individual cloves - $16. per pound. Elephant garlic is not a true garlic; it a leek. All garlic species are botanically classified as Allium Sativum and elephant garlic is Allium Ampeloprasum, formerly Allium Gigantum.

Large elephant garlic is about twice the size of the largest real garlics or larger and has a milder taste but with a sharp onion-like edge to it and a distinctive aftertaste. They average five monstrously large cloves that are somewhat yellowish compared the milky whiteness of true garlic cloves. It also has far less allicin potential than real garlic but grows extremely clean and disease free and does not seem to be bothered by insects. Elephant garlic stores very hard and clean much longer than real garlic, even when separated into individual cloves. Unlike real garlic it produces bottom bulbils called corms that have very hard shells with sharp pointed tops and they store even longer than the bulbs.

The corms are attached to the bottoms of the bulbs but grow up their sides and are often incorporated into the bulb wrappers several layers deep. The bulb wrappers on elephant garlic are extremely white and they cure out to be very thin and flaky and are intact only on freshly harvested bulbs. After a few months they seem to evaporate, leaving bare or almost bare bulbs that have a rather rough look but it does not seem to affect their storability much, only their attractiveness.





The Many Tastes of Garlic Believe it or not, all garlics do not taste the same. Some cultivars are exceedingly mild in taste, such as Chet's Italian Red and Red Toch (both Artichokes). Some are medium flavored like Inchelium Red (another Artichoke) or Burgundy (a Creole ) while others are very hot and strong, such as Metechi (a marbled Purple Stripe) or Chinese Purple (Asiatic). I usually enjoy a milder garlic for eating raw and stronger garlics for cooking or for using as medicine. Each garlic is different in taste, but don't take my word for it, try several kinds to see which tastes appeal to you as each of us has our own likes.
There are several components to garlic taste, but we only measure three of them - flavor (or garlickiness), pungency (whhich is the degree of hotness when eaten raw) and residual or aftertaste, which for some varieties is considerable, and it's not necessarily related to pungency. We measure (subjectively) heat, flavor, and aftertaste on a scale from 1 to 10, each. Raw garlic is hot like a chile pepper, it just doesn't last over a minute, usually and has an aftertaste. Flavor is the intensity of the garlic taste itself, whether it is hot or not; that is, the garlickiness of it. Some have a heavy flavor but mild in heat, whereas others may be light in both or very heavy in both. If you get garlic that scores a ten on all three scales, you have a very potent garlic.
Even among the hot garlics, taste varies. Chinese Purple (Asiatic) for example is instantly hot, whereas Asian Rose, another Asiatic AKA Chinese Sativum, produces a truly beautiful garlic flavor with no hint of heat for about ten seconds then your mouth seems to explode with heat. Some varieties I have taste tested had a delay of almost 30 seconds before the raging one minute inferno set in. Unlike Hot peppers, or chilis as they are properly called, the heat from garlic dissipates quickly, usually in 30 to 45 seconds. Garlic is only hot when eaten raw as cooking removes the heat. This overview is intended to be brief and a detailed discussion of taste will be included in each of the illustrated varietal descriptions of the garlics we have for sale.
The taste of any given garlic changes almost continually. Any garlic is usually milder soon after it is pulled from the ground than it will be after a few months of storage as the chemistry within the garlic evolves during the year. Once pulled from the ground, garlic slowly dehydrates in a natural drying down process that takes months and as it loses its moisture it slowly shrinks in size and the flavor begins to condense and continues to intensify as long as it is stored at room temperature. If at any point during this process you slice and dry it, it will retain whatever flavor it had at that point and will not change any more. Shelf life at room temp and about 50% humidity is from four to ten months or longer, depending on the variety and the health and condition of the garlic.
Also, growing conditions directly affect taste. While each cultivar has its normal flavor, that is, what it tastes like in a normal year, each one varies from year to year based on that years growing conditions. Adverse weather can make normally mild varieties hot and usually hot garlics become mild - but the next year they return to normal. Our varietal description will try to describe the current crop's taste as accurately as possible since we test taste random samples of each cultivar.
All taste tests are done with raw garlic because that is the only way I know of to accurately determine the true taste of a garlic since cooking changes the flavor of any garlic. Please read our section on cooking with garlic for a detailed discussion of how cooking affects the flavor of garlic. There we talk about some tricks you can use to make the garlic flavor mild and creamy or as bold as you prefer.
Burgundy has a deep flavor yet mild heat that make it a delight for raw eating - most creoles have this characteristic although some are a little stronger. Red Toch, Chester Aaron's favorite, has a similar taste - lightrichness. Chesnok Red and Siberian fall in there somewhere. Inchelium Red and Nootka Rose are excellent medium and medium warm tasting garlics and are very good for raw eating with rich fullness.
Hardnecks, such as Rocamboles, Purple Stripes and Porcelains have generally the deepest flavors with Rocamboles having the most earthy and musty flavor and usually a lot of heat, but storing the shortest time. Rocamboles are excellent for raw eating even though they're strong because of the deep, rich, earthy flavor that just makes everything feel better. Commercial Artichoke garlics are generally considered to have the least flavor of garlics, although they can have a lot of heat, they may not have much depth.
Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to get good garlic at your local supermarket during the late winter through mid-summer? There is a reason for that-most garlic sold in stores is artichoke garlic and by that time it is beginning to deteriorate or trying to sprout and grow as it has been out of the ground long past its time to be replanted (the fall). It is usually sometime around mid-July before good garlic again becomes available.
Because most garlics grown in the United States are grown in more northerly latitudes, the time to harvest usually starts in late June or early July. Since we are located in the southernmost part of the country, our garlic matures a month or two earlier than the northern growers so we can offer high quality gourmet varieties much sooner than most other growers. We often begin harvesting in mid May and can have freshly harvested garlic available in June.
Elephant garlic is so mild you can take a whole bulb of it and slice the cloves into quarter inch thick steaks, sauté them in butter or olive oil and serve them as a vegetable.

In Summary The hard-neck garlics tend to be more colorful and have fewer, but larger, cloves per bulb than the softnecks. Soft-necks generally have about twice as many cloves per bulb as the hard-necks. The Silverskins (soft-necks) tend to be the longest storing garlics with Porcelains (hardnecks) the second-longest storing and are usually hot and strong in flavor-though not always. The Asiatics (hard-necks) tend to be the shortest storing kinds with Rocamboles (another hardneck) next and Rocamboles and seem to be unsuited to growing well in the southern climates, unless grown at higher altitudes. The other main varieties all fall in between and grow well in our soil and produce generally superior garlics as long as we get decent rain and reasonable temperatures.

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