Thursday, June 11, 2009
This spring's rain: it was not as much as we needed, but enough to grow pounds and pounds of the best garlic I've ever grown.
Here is my 2009 crop, in the order each matured for harvest:
1) Shilla: Powerfully flavored, slightly mustardy, and large-headed, Shilla is a Turban hardneck that matures early. It matured two weeks before some of the others, and was ready for harvest the second week of May. This is the first year I grew it, and I'm thrilled: it gave me great yield and great flavor with absolutely no trouble.
2) Ajo Rojo: Gosh, this is a gorgeous garlic. The outer skins are shiny and translucent, tucking deep burgundy clove wrappers underneath. It is a strong garlic, but not overwhelming, wonderful in sauces and stews. It is a Creole garlic, and it grew much better for me this year than last. Thank goodness, because I love this baby.
3) Red Toch: This is my primary garlic, the one I grow the most of and rely on throughout the year. It has big fat cloves that grow out below the roots, creating heart-shaped large heads. Raw, cooked, roasted, this not-too-hot garlic tastes good however I prepare it. It is an Artichoke variety that seems to love our particular climate and gives me a reliable yield of fat heads.
4) New York White (aka Polish White): This is another Artichoke variety—a type that grows very well for me—but is stronger in flavor than the other two artichoke varieties I grow. It gave me medium-sized heads with big fat cloves and rich and medium-hot flavor. This is a great all-purpose garlic.
5) Applegate: My third Artichoke variety, Applegate has proven itself a couple times for me now. It yields large heads with fat cloves wrapped in rich parchment with purple and peachy-pink stripes, another of the beauty queens. Very mild-flavored, this is the perfect ingredient to use in recipes that call for raw garlic.
6) Metechi: A Marbled Purple Stripe variety, parts of the exterior wrapping are deep, deep purple. It is also deeply, deeply hot. This is the most pungent of the bunch, as well as the prettiest plant as it grows. The foliage is sturdy and symmetrical, with a soft blue blush. This was my first year growing it; I'll definitely grow it again. Hopefully I will be able to harvest larger heads from it next year. I just harvested it as it seemed so much later than my others and I thought it had to be ready to come up, but I should have let it go another week or so.