Garlic

                                                                                                                Photo by Donna Ruhlman

Garlic has arrived and it's one of my favorite purchases at our grower's market.  This is fresh garlic, not cured, and it's very juicy and strong. The skin is tight over the cloves, the stalks—this is a hard-necked variety—are green and firm.  If you  find ones like these taste the roots (chef's garden sells similar roots to use with its greens).  You can't buy this at a grocery store—you can only get if from the saintly folks who grow it.  Very special stuff.  (By chance, as I was thinking about this post an hour ago, almost as if I'd beckoned it, an email dropped into my box from Timber Press, announcing the forthcoming The Complete Book of Garlic, by Ted Jordan Merideth, which contains info on growing it yourself, which is easy to do and which I highly recommend).

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57 Wonderful responses to “Garlic!”

  • kamille

    Do you have any recipes or ways to use all of fresh garlic? I just bought some, b/c we have a local farm/garden where I live and it’s abundant.

    thanks!

  • luis

    Went to Publix and picked up a couple of tubers… yuca or cassava to be exact. Want to know what I have in mind?????
    first….from wikipedia “The cassava, yuca, manioc, or tapioca (Manihot esculenta) is a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge family) native to South America that is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates. Indeed, cassava is the third largest source of carbohydrates for human food in the world, with Africa its largest center of production”
    Then.. I plan to strip the bark off of them and cut them in rounds. Then I plan to use an apple corer to strip the tough inner core of the cassava. They should end up looking like donuts with maybe a 1/4 in thichness.
    Then I boiled them and in my mortar and pestle jig I will mash garlic with extra virgin olive oil and salt. After the yuca is done and is soft and starchy looking I will pour the garlic mojo all over it and the eats will be good indeed.
    The next day… I will deep fry them and sprinkle some sugar over the crisps…. a sneak preview of what heaven is like. But you guys didn’t get from me….naaaaaaaaa….!

  • Yannis Mameletzis

    All I can say is that in addition to your great piece on garlic (such an important part of the Greek cuisine), I find your pictures striking and beautiful. Well done!
    Yannis
    mylittlebaklava.blogspot.com

  • Kanani

    Heartache. Of the garlic farmer’s variety. I just got a note from Chester Aaron.
    Dear Kanani:

    Trouble. A combination of wild turkeys and nematodes in the soil devastated my harvest. Lots of labor and money required now.

    I’m too old for this.

    Can there be any doubt why I love this man? 87, and he’s still going at it.
    But drat. I guess I’ll have to find a new supplier.

  • Hank

    I use the roots in salads — I cut them off and toss them into a mixed salad, and people eat it and say, “I didn’t see any garlic in here? Where is it?”

    Always makes me smile.

  • sarah

    michael,

    I go to the green city market in Chicago every Wednesday and starting this past week a couple vendors were offering the “fresh garlic”. Any thoughts on ratios of the fresh vs. the dried i typically buy in the grocery?

  • Linda

    Every October I buy four 18″ garlic braids from my favorite local, organic garlic grower. She decorates the tops of the braids with dried flowers. They hang in my kitchen all fall, winter and spring, indeed, until fresh garlic is once again available at the local Farmer’s Market. I’ve never had a problem with vampires (and no they haven’t been bruised although my kitchen usually smells like bruised garlic). I also don’t have problems with bats….even though they live around here….

    I’m so lucky to live where I live!

  • kanani

    Last summer I had a memorable meal with Chester Aaron who grows 100 types of garlic in his small farm in Occidental. He’s also written a few books on it, including a memoir called “Garlic is Life.” He sent me home with a box of different types that he had cured in his shed. It was wonderful…spanish creoles, rose du var, brown tempests. It was a wonderful gift.

  • Messy

    ntsc: I never even thought of that, and shame on me because I have a collection of old cookbooks that tell the reader to “use garlic sparingly if at all” and only have it in recipes in their “ethnic food” sections.

    Now that I think of it, even before WWI, garlic was not popular with many Americans, if you believe the cookbooks. I’m guessing if I looked at the populations that avoided it, I’d find a whole bunch of second and third generation immigrants whose idea of assimilating meant eating what they considered to be “American Food”.

    There are a lot of places I could go with that. Thanks!

  • Phil

    And I have to agree with Rulman – zucchini has no real predominant taste, unless you eat it raw. Cook it for very long, and it tastes . . . . well, meh.

    Well done tonight, Ruhlman.

  • luis

    Wow!!!!, Kielbasa, carrots, green beans and cabbage boiled on stove top drained and served with olive oil and seasoning..hmmm hmm good!. No garlic on this one. Very tasty and conforting.

  • ntsc

    To answer Messy on a cuisine that doesn’t use garlic, mid-late 20th century WASP. I don’t think it is used in Scandanavia cooking, at least not that found in the upper midwest.

  • Andrew

    Good to see Ruhlman back judging on Iron Chef America tonight (and not even on a Michael Symon episode!)….

  • luis

    Nancy Heller you ask?

    “Qestion on a related plant – does anyone have any idea why my Chinese Flowering Garlic Chives aren’t flowering?”

    No Bee’s. Get some bee’s…just a hunch…

  • GG Mora

    I’m just starting to harvest our garlic – pulled ±50 heads of Russian Red yesterday. Still have ±50 each of German Extra Hardy, Marino, and an oddball local called Elmer’s Topset.

    We planted in pure compost last fall, and the heads are GIGANTIC – some of them more than 3″ across! I’ll be bundling and hanging them over the weekend – they’ll need several weeks to cure and dry. Then I’ll trim and clean them and put them in storage. Looks like for the first time we’ll have enough to carry us through until next year’s harvest.

    Garlic is perversely easy to grow: recommended for even the most inexperienced gardener.

  • Sylvie, Rappahannock Cook & Kitchen Gardener

    Nancy: it’s too early for garlic chives to flower(assuming you are in the Northern hemisphere…), they’ll bloom later this summer while regular chives bloom in the spring. Unless you want lots – and I mean lots – of garlic chives, make sure to dead head and not let them go to seed: not only to they increase by clumping, every single seed germinates (or so it seems!).

    The flowers are used in cookery – but they are also pretty in country bouquets.

  • Sylvie, Rappahannock Cook & Kitchen Gardener

    Nancy: it’s too early for garlic chives to flower(assuming you are in the Northern hemisphere…), they’ll bloom later this summer while regular chives bloom in the spring. Unless you want lots – and I mean lots – of garlic chives, make sure to dead head and not let them go to seed: not only to they increase by clumping, every single seed germinates (or so it seems!).

    The flowers are used in cookery – but they are also pretty in country bouquets.

  • Sylvie, Rappahannock Cook & Kitchen Gardener

    Nancy: it’s too early for garlic chives to flower(assuming you are in the Northern hemisphere…), they’ll bloom later this summer while regular chives bloom in the spring. Unless you want lots – and I mean lots – of garlic chives, make sure to dead head and not let them go to seed: not only to they increase by clumping, every single seed germinates (or so it seems!).

    The flowers are used in cookery – but they are also pretty in country bouquets.

  • luis

    FLH, thanks I was wondering what to make tomorrow. Bow tie pasta or spaghetti with garlic and toasted almond pesto. Got basil in the herb garden don’t have to leave tha house. outstanding.
    Green fresh garlic merits a trip to Norman brothers.
    http://www.normanbrothers.com/

  • 666

    kinda funny all this talk by the herd about certain ingredients, recipes and dishes (and their associations with “other” people) they couldn’t run away from any faster, before Fool Netjerk and their Ironic Chef America made it status quo, isn’t it?

    it’s good to be a herder.

  • nondiregol

    I love fresh garlic too.

    Here’s the dirty little secret that Gilroy, self proclaimed “Garlic Capitol of the World” doesn’t want you to know. For the last several years they’ve had to “import” garlic from Fresno for their annual Festival.

    Fresno by the way is known to some of us as the Gateway to Clovis.

  • hollerhither

    Garlic scapes & eggs…yum…got some right at the beginning of spring from the farmer’s market. I am hoping to grow garlic myself next year.

  • Kurt

    Thanks for the reminder, Mr Ruhlman! Just this morning I peeked at the garden before leaving for work, and decided it was time to pull the garlic. I’d forgotten about it until I read your post.

    So I just finished pulling up 35 beautiful heads. There’s going to be some garlic-eatin’ this weekend, let me tell you (and for the next several months).

    I highly recommend growing garlic. It’s dead simple. Find some good seed stock from a local grower, plant individual cloves in the fall, harvest and enjoy the scapes when they appear in May or early June, then pull the heads when the plants are 50-60% yellowed/brown.

    I learned something this year about harvesting the scapes. You can pull them right out instead of cutting them, and you end up with about 8″ more of very tender scape. Just grab where the scape emerges from the plant and pull gingerly yet firmly. Sometimes they break, but it’s really cool when they don’t.

  • Messy

    Nancy – They might need a dash of fertilizer, but that family of plants loves heat. Generally plants like Society Garlic and regular garlic chives won’t bloom until August. Mine are just starting, but they’re in full sun and the temperatures have been in the 90s for the last little while.

    Also, blooming is the last step before a plant sets seeds and either dies (if it’s an annual) or shuts down for the winter. Again, time will solve that.

    Patience.

  • mary lynn

    We lived in China for 2.5 years and garlic stems were almost a daily part of cooking. Readily available anywhere and especially good with pork! Some Asian markets carry them here, but not always. Too bad, they are wonderful!

  • Nancy Heller

    Question on a related plant – does anyone have any idea why my Chinese Flowering Garlic Chives aren’t flowering? I’ve got lots of grasslike leaves, but no actual chives yet.

  • Messy

    A comment and a question. Garlic is fantastic. We have it on hand year ’round, whether dried or fresh, and it freezes beautifully. All you have to do is blanch it for two minutes, peel it (peels will pop right off) and freeze it on a cookie sheet. When the cloves are frozen, dump them into a freezer bag.

    Here’s a question for everyone, but especially you, Mr. Ruhlman: Can anyone name a culture/country/part of the world where there isn’t any garlic or relative of garlic used, ever?

    I can’t think of one, but I know I’m probably wrong.

  • Kel

    Donna’s photo on your website are really wonderful, especially this shot of the punked out garlic! Of course, I visit often because of the meaningful and insightful prose but the photos make this site simply spectacular!!

  • Jeffry

    I am living in Korea right now and the green garlic stem is available in every grocery store. I love them. I’m also lucky enough to buy my garlic bulk from a guy who parks his truck, stacked ten feet in the air with garlic he grows on his farm, at the end of a market street near my home.

  • Smandell

    I think we smoked garlic back in the day…we smoke everything else!!!

  • Natalie Sztern

    Ya know..it’s getting to the point where I look forward to the picture as it downloads rather than the content!! I get a little jerk of excitement…bob u are my kind of wicked wit: dry but highly knowledgeable…

  • CG

    College era stupidity: I was dared to eat a handful of garlic cloves. Ate it. Had the most amazing olfactory hallucinations for the rest of the day. “What’s burning?” “You smell like blueberries.” “Oh, fresh paint.”

    Anyone try smoked garlic? Easy to make on the grill and great to slather on chicken.

    CG

  • Kate in the NW

    Beautiful – love, LOVE the green bits/scapes.

    My husband’s grandfather (1st generation Italian, from Lucca) used to have a prolific vegetable and herb garden in New England. He used all sorts of fresh garlic – seems like all stages of growth AND all parts of the plant. It was a revelation to me.

    When he died several years ago, we asked that basil, zucchini, squash blossoms and fresh garlic stalks be included in the flower arrangement at his service. It was beautiful and a fitting tribute to both him and his wonderful, fresh food.

  • Zeynep

    Fresh garlic is best when it resembles fresh onions, when it is at a stage prior to bulb formation. And I might add that it is less troublesome to handle as there is no peeling involved. You can find it anywhere around the world except for North America, I guess.

  • Avi

    Above, Garrett noted the spicy sting of fresh garlic — so, is it substitutable in recipes for non-fresh, pedestrian garlic? Seems like less is probably more with the fresh stuff.

  • JennieTikka

    Note to self: Look for garlic at local Farmers Market tonight.

    Not sure how successful I’ll be in finding any, honestly. Lately, the garlic growers here in California have been producing less and less and the majority of what we get in California now (in major supermarkets at least) is coming from China, I’m told. The Gilroy garlic is almost gone.

  • French Laundry at Home

    One of my favorite things about fresh garlic is making garlic scape pesto and tossing it with fresh pasta. That’s a sign that summer is officially here.

  • Charlotte

    I spent a winter in Taiwan many years ago, and one of our favorite lunches was sauteed garlic greens with salty Chinese ham. A quick stir fry, over rice — yum.

  • Cheryl

    Do you cook it/use it exactly as you would its more traditional cousin?

    The photo really is captivating. I feel like scratching and sniffing my computer screen to release its fragrance…

  • Badger

    The first time I ever encountered fresh garlic was this spring when it showed up in our CSA boxes. It was an absolute revelation. While it worked great in recipes, my favorite thing was to just slice it up (including the greens), saute it in butter and slather that on bread with a little salt & pepper. You have to be willing to put up with solitude for a day or two after eating it, but it’s worth it.

  • Rick

    Ahhhh, garlic, the miracle ingredient. This post has be wanting to swing by the farmers market and seeing if I can find some fresh ‘breath fresheners’, as we like to call it.

    And thank you for the book link, being a huge garlic fan, I will definitely need to look into that one.

  • Garrett

    You know, the first time I ever encountered fresh garlic, I thought they were large green onions. I cut them up over a fresh salad, bit in, and thought I was going to die from the sting of it.

  • Darcie

    Love that photo. It looks like the garlic has mad scientist hair.

    If you have any garden space at all, garlic is one of the easiest things to grow. I plant it around Halloween and harvest in July. In between I do nothing but watch it grow.

    One great thing about growing it yourself is that you can use the scapes that form at the top of the stalks.

  • DetzelPretzel

    Dangit…I forgot the ‘e’ in tomatoes and now everyone’s going to think I’m one of the “kids who can’t read good”.

  • Alexa

    I absolutely love fresh garlic like this, and am passionate about the greens at the top of the stalk. An old aunt cooked them for me once and I was hooked, but you just can’t find them anywhere to buy. As an apartment dweller, I can only dream about fresh garlic greens, sigh.

  • Bob delGrosso

    I hasten to add that fresh garlic is the only kind of garlic that is effective in warding off vampires. I’ve tried to use cured, powdered, roasted and pickled garlic to no good effect. The vampires always get me. Fresh garlic is another story altogether. Just make sure to bruise the garlic first to release the enzyme allinase that catalyzes the breakdown of alliin in allinin. it’s the allinin what does the trick.

    G-d help us all.

    See for details: http://tinyurl.com/6fjqgx