I remember, sometime in the 60s or 70s, when elephant garlic broke upon the scene of American gardeners. If my memory is correct, Rodale’s Organic Gardening magazine did an article on it, and how it was discovered in a village somewhere in the eastern part of the Soviet Union. A delegation of American gardeners was visiting with the gardeners of that region, in a goodwill effort. The Americans were amazed and thrilled to encounter this “garlic,” which the local people grew and used regularly. My father read about it and found a company offering it… for a price. I think he only managed to get three or four cloves, but that was enough to get us started!
Elephant garlic, technically, isn’t garlic. It’s a type of leek.
Elephant garlic, technically, isn’t garlic. It’s a form of leek. Having said that, I will refer to it as garlic from here on out. It looks like giant garlic, it smells like garlic and it tastes like garlic. One uses it like garlic. Elephant garlic is mild flavored compared to most other kinds of garlic. We like it just fine, though. After all, a single clove of elephant garlic is often more than 10 times the size of a clove and any other kind of garlic. So it’s mild… If you want more garlic flavor, chop more into your food. That’s easy to do with elephant garlic!
Elephant garlic is easy to grow! For that matter, any garlic is easy to grow. Elephant garlic, however, is both easy to grow and often produces spectacular harvests! Here’s a picture of just part of what I dug, in a spot where I grew elephant garlic two years ago. This is just what had escaped me, in my previous harvest. It grew and produced almost as an afterthought. When planting it on purpose, I aim to put the cloves in the ground in October, yet, no garlic is really that picky. If planted out of season, it may not produce as well as it would otherwise, but it will survive and produce.
Elephant garlic keeps just as well as any other garlic, meaning, you can dig it in July and use it until you have another harvest, all without taking special steps to preserve it.
Elephant garlic is especially easy to use.
Elephant garlic is especially easy to use. The large cloves are easy to handle, easy to peel. Over and over again, I find myself reaching for elephant garlic when I cook, and this, primarily because it’s easy to peel and to dice.
Elephant garlic flowers make this variety stand out from other kinds of garlic. Without fail I can pick it out because the flower heads are quite large and on 2 1/2 to 3′ stalks. I’ve heard of people growing it as an ornamental without even knowing that they could eat the bulbs.
If you would like to grow elephant garlic you could order a start from a seed company.
Or, if you only wish to try a little, you could purchase a head or two in the grocery store. If they sell elephant garlic, it will grow.
What’s your favorite way to use garlic? We’d love to know.
Also, if this tip has been helpful to you, please share!