Friday, January 27, 2006

The Garlic Test

Over the last months, I have tried a variety of garlic bulbs in my kitchen in order to determine which type to buy in the future. The results varied from one type to the other but, frankly, I found that while each types of garlic definitely had a different taste, they still all performed well in most recipes.

What I learned over the course of my various experiments however was that freshness was key in term of flavour and aroma. It sounds simple. It is pure common sense. I know, but I was still surpised at how huge the difference can be. The best tasting cloves of garlic deteriorated extremely fast while the cheapest imports (those with a fairly strong sulphuric smell) lasted a bit longer. But even they greatly lost in taste and aroma after a few weeks/months.

My favourite garlic was locally grown and was of the "hard neck" varieties which tend to deteriorate faster then the “soft neck” varieties. As such, my favourite locally grown garlic did not last very long. I also think that because it was locally produced its level of freshness was simply higher at the time of buying hence better tasting.

Now, which type of garlic will I chose next time? I'll probably stick with what is available to me at the grocery store for most of the year but will definitely choose the local varieties when in season. I will also only buy garlic in small quantities so that we always have the freshest garlic possible at home. Common sense applies here.


Le Maître Potager said...

I love garlic, but definitely have a problem with its rapid loss of freshness. I only buy small quantities now, but I still lose it before I use it all. So I decided to peel them and keep them in olive oil. Disaster: it quickly began to smell bad and strong, and the taste turned bad too.

Is there any good way to preserve garlic?

Raspberry Sour said...

My big problem since moving to Toronto is finding garlic which isn't moldy, or on the verge of becoming moldy. Growing up in a skin-crackling dry prairie wonderland, I'd never experienced this problem. So I'm in the same boat- buying in small quantities and trying not to be bothered when it's wasted. I've also started roasting it and using it as a spread, which easily gets rid of an entire head in one evening.

MagicTofu said...

Monsieur Maitre Potager: I have heard that garlic is one of the few things we should avoid placing in jars since the risks of botulism are fairly high. Otherwise, the only trick I know is to keep the bulbs in a brown paper bag in fresh and dry place. I am guessing that gardeners might have a few extra tricks.

Raspberry sour, when I have too much garlic I roast it too and use it as soon as possible. I tried freezing roasted garlic: it is fine for a couple of weeks and can be added to mashed potatoes or something similar but after a prolonged period, it turns bad even in the freezer.