Due to a growing population of gophers, we have no garlic for sale in 2016. We’re in the process of building gopher-proof raised beds and may have garlic again in 2017.
These are varieties we’ve had in the past and some we hope to have in the future.
Short-Term Keepers (all hard necks)
These hardnecks (garlic types that have stiff, as opposed to soft, main stems) have the richest, most complex flavors. They’re in their prime in fall and are what we reach for first.
The rocambole varieties have great garlic taste without the harshness of longer storing garlics, so they’re exceptional in recipes that call for fresh garlic: pesto, salsa, salad dressing. In general, they also have large, easy-to-peel cloves. In proper storage conditions (a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight), they will generally keep until the winter holidays.
Ted Meredith, the author of The Complete Book of Garlic describes the taste of Rocamboles as “ambrosial.” And among Rocamboles, Killarney Red is among the best. Like other Rocamboles, Killarney Red needs cold winters and thrives in our climate. It peels easily and is an excellent choice when you want to feature garlic flavor in your dish.
This one is a bit milder and earthier in flavor than Killarney Red, but still has the rich and complex flavor we love in rocamboles. It works well in any dish.
Chesnok Red has won “best baking garlic” taste tests conducted by Rodale, Sunset Magazine, Martha Stewart, and others. It holds its shape and retains flavor well when cooked. The cloves are large and easy-to-peel.
Very similar to Chesnok Red: a great all-around garlic with easy to peel cloves and also a fantastic choice for roasting or grilling.
Medium Keeper Hardnecks
The garlics in the porcelain family keep a bit longer than other hardnecks. They also have the highest allicin content of all the garlics and so are highly valued for those using garlic for its purported health benefits. Allicin is what gives garlic the strong sulfury flavor — just what you want in some recipes but often a little harsh in others.
With good storing ability for a hard neck (might make it to late winter/early spring), this variety has a lovely, uniform shape and big, fat cloves. It has a strong, garlicky flavor that works well in many cooked dishes but can also be used raw for those who like the heat. Baked, it becomes sweet and starchy.
Georgian Crystal tends to be a bit milder than Music but also has large, easy to peel cloves.
Medium Keeper Softnecks
These soft necks have cloves arranged artichoke-like around the soft stem and are thus dubbed “Artichoke Garlics.” They keep longer than most hardnecks and have richer flavors than the longer keeping silverskin softnecks (see below), so they’re a great choice for garlic that will keep into late winter and early spring.
A Northwest heirloom developed on the Colville Reservation, Inchelium Red won the “best of the softnecks” award over 20 other varieties at The Rodale Insitute in 1990. Some describe the flavor as “a true medium” — neither too hot, nor too mild. It keeps well, peels easily and has a pleasant taste that works well in most recipes.
Another versatile Northwest heirloom, Lorz Italian stands up well to the hardnecks for complex flavors. The Lorz family brought it from Italy to the Columbia River Basin in the late 1800s. It’s a good choice if you want relatively long storage (6-8 months) and a hot and spicy garlic flavor that lingers long after the first bite. Another bonus: it has few of those hard-to-clean inner cloves.
Not really blue, but this one has good, hot flavor and keeps well.
The best keeping garlics are those in the silverskin family. Some kinds in this family are what you’re most likely to find in supermarket bins or in mass marketed braids. They tend to have all those pesky, small cloves that are hard to peel. In cold winter climates like ours, silverskins varieties don’t usually grow as big as in California or China (where most mass produced silverskin garlic comes from). We don’t find these as tasty as any garlic above. But come May, when most other garlics have shriveled up, they are welcome and do the job just fine.
We are still experimenting with silverskins that offer the best balance of flavor, storability and size.
An heirloom from the San Juan Islands, this beautiful red, streaked garlic is good for all-round cooking.