Isn’t all garlic just garlic?

Well yes, all garlic is just garlic the same way all radishes are just radishes or all apples are just apples. In truth the variations between garlic cultivars can be enormous in some cases and not so much in others. But the culinary differences between garlic varieties in flavor and uses can vary just as much as the difference between a Granny Smith and a Gala apple or a sweet Vadalia and a Spanish yellow onion or the Watermelon and the Daikon radish.

What is a cultivar?

Cultivar describes a variety of plant that has been/is cultivated by humans. A variety of a given plant is a naturally occurring variation of that plant.

How many varieties of garlic are there?

A USDA study done In 2003, did DNA testing of 211 varieties of garlic. This study showed that there are 10 distinct types of garlic. The silverskin and artichoke are the two softneck types. The rocambole, porcelain, purple stripe, marble purple stripe, asiatic, turban, creole, and glazed purple stripe are hardneck types. Inside of these 10 types are literally hundreds of cultivars.

What is the difference between hardneck and softneck garlic?

Simply put, the hardneck group produces a central flower stem called a scape the softneck group does not. But there are more differences. Hardnecks produce a more uniform bulb with cloves neatly and most often uniformly growing around their rigid flower stem. Softnecks produce more clove clusters of varying sizes with the smallest in the middle. There are also flavor, color, size, storage life, growing requirements and environmental differences.

What is a CSA?

Community Supported Agriculture - a CSA allows the consumer to purchase a portion of a farm harvest from a farmer or a group of farmers. CSA members receive deliveries of seasonal fruits, vegetables and other food stuffs such as honey, eggs, flowers and meats directly from the producer/farmer. Farmers earn early season capitol and a guaranteed market for their products. The consumer benefits from truly fresh seasonal produce and easier access to high demand items. Our CSA is strictly garlic - a full membership gains you deliveries of most of the varieties we grow including our test varieties.

What is green garlic?

Green garlic is a garlic plant that is harvested before it develops a bulb. It is a very immature garlic that looks more like a scallion or green onion. Everything about the plant - leaves, roots - at this stage is edible. It has a milder garlicky taste and can be used in salads, soups or grilled or roasted.

What are garlic scapes?

Scapes are the flower stems that emerge from the center of a hardneck garlic bulbs. These stems are harvested early while still tender, They are mild tasting and have a texture reminiscent of asparagus when par-boiled before using. Harvesting scapes is labor intensive because it can only be done by hand. They are harvested in late spring through early summer and are widely sought after. Scapes are fantastic grilled and make an excellent pesto. Unlike green garlic they can be frozen for later use.

What are garlic chips?

Our garlic chips are very thin slices of garlic cloves that have been dehydrated. They have a very long shelf life when stored in a tightly sealed jar and kept in a cool, dark place. Excellent when used to flavor meats of any kind (put under skin of poultry or into slits made in a roast) and to flavor soups, sauces and stews. Or, they can be rehydrated in any liquid (we recommend using what is called for in your recipe - wine, vinegar, water, stock, etc). Once rehydrated they can be diced, minced or used as is. Our chips are made from one cultivar and are robust in flavor with a nice heat.

What does it mean to cure garlic?

Most garlic needs to be dried - cured - to better develop its flavor and improve its storage ability. This is accomplished by cleaning the plants of loose soil, sizing the bulb and bundling them with twine. The bundles are then hung until the leaves are completely dry. This entire process is done by hand, Curing usually takes at least 4 weeks in a well ventilated, protected area out of the sun and weather. The larger the bulb the longer it will take to cure.

What is the best way to store cured garlic at home?

Keep garlic bulbs away from sunlight and humidity in a spot with good air circulation. The ideal would be a dark place with moderate humidity, good air circulation and a temperature of about 62 degrees. Bare in mind that once the bulb is broken the remaining cloves have an ever decreasing shelf life. Do not store garlic in the refrigerator. Because garlic has very low acidity, when kept in a refrigerator it can easily mold or become prone to developing bacteria. When stored properly most garlic bulbs will keep for months.

What kind of garlic is sold in the grocery store?

This depends on the store and its buying policies. Most often you’re purchasing a softneck variety. How productive, how easy to grow and shelf life are the main consideration for most garlic producers and stores. Flavor and culinary value are not ordinarily part of the equation. Which garlic cultivar is being offered at your local grocery would be difficult to determine just by looking at it.

What is the best kind of garlic to grow in my garden?

Ah, very good question but not an easy one to answer. Some say softnecks are easier to grow in warmer climates and hardnecks are easier in colder climates. All garlic require vernalization, that is cold, winter weather without it the garlic you plant may grow but it won’t thrive, it won’t develop the way you expect. Garlic is not particularly hard to grow but it is fussy about some things and soil health is one of those. Potassium, sulfur and manganese levels are important, as well as, the amount of organic matter and the soil type (clay, loamy, sand - etc). Another thing to keep in mind is where you get your seed garlic from. Don’t expect seed garlic from Ontario to grow gangbusters in North Carolina. Depending on the variety it could take years to acclimate. It’s best to start with garlic grown in your area - it’s already acclimated and is more likely to do well in your garden. Ask at your local farmers market about growers in your area then ask those growers if they’ll sell you some amount of seed garlic. And don’t be overly surprised at the price most seed garlic sells for over $18 per pound.

What is aoili?

Aoili is just mayonnaise, right? Well, yes and no. When talking about a traditional Aoili this is an over simplification. While both aoili and mayo are emulsions they differ largely in their ingredients. Once upon a time Aoili was just a great deal of garlic mashed and hand whisked with a good quantity of olive oil until it became light and creamy. That’s it. No other ingredients. Today the garlic is emulsified into egg and/or egg yolks, an acid and olive oil. Plus, it is almost always flavored with another herb or condiment but even with this mayo has many more ingredients.

Aside from garlic what else do you sell?

We are all about the garlic! Currently, we offer cured garlic bulbs, fresh garlic bulbs, braids, green garlic, scapes, dehydrated chips and powder. We sell these at local farmers markets, to some local restaurants and co-ops and through our CSA. We are always trying to improve our product line and we actively solicit feedback from our customers.

More questions?

We’d be glad to answer questions you might have about our products or garlic in general. Click on the contact link below and send us an email with your question(s). We’ll reply a soon as we can (we really will).