In one corner was a specimen from the plenteous, inexpensive supply of Chinese garlic. In the other corner sat he Christopher Ranch LLC (Gilroy, Calif.) heirloom variety. In a taste-off/ cook-off, the chef/referee was Michael Giletto, executive chef at Cherry Valley Country Club, Skillman, N.J., who got o the bottom of the taste differences. He conducted various tests on both varieties with definitive results. through the center and removed the cloves and stem. The shape of the Chinese garlic was poor, and the cloves were detached. The sweetness was pleasant for 30 minutes, but became bitter as it sat. The eating experience was sweet going in and bitter going down. The tongue-feel against the roof of the mouth was creamy, but grainy. Chinese versus California dual
Using whole bulbs and peeled cloves,
Giletto observed that the Chinese
garlic was dry, grainy and had fiber
strands. The aroma was strong for 10
minutes, then dropped off quickly as it
sat for the remainder of the hour.
The California garlic held its shape. The
sweetness lasted longer, both while
it was hot and as it cooled down. The
mouthfeel was creamy, smooth and
aromatic. The tongue-feel against the roof
of the mouth was flavorful and creamy.
The California garlic was moist, less
fibrous and had a much brighter cream/
white color. The aroma lasted longer
over the hour he tested it. At the end, it
still had a nice bite with a sharpness that
lasted longer on the sides of the tongue.
Cloves from a jar and a few hand-peeled
cloves were tested after first being
sautéed at 190ºF, then, using the sous
vide method, heated in a water bath at
141º F. In both Chinese and California
garlic, natural oils were released, adding
a pleasant aroma and slight color change.
The Chinese garlic, however, developed a
hint of unappetizing brownness. After 40
minutes, the shape and texture were still
holding round and slightly firm. At 1 hour,
the texture was mushy and creamy, but
had a stringy feel between the fingers. A
nutty smell was released from the bag.
Giletto slow-roasted bulbs, then cut
Sauté of chopped cloves at 190ºF
Giletto tested fresh, chopped garlic from
the bulb with stem removed. With the
Chinese version, the color looked good for
an hour after it was sautéed, but looked dry.
The texture was chewy and gummy. After
resting for 40 minutes, it became soft and
limp. It had to be thrown away after an hour.
The California garlic held its color for a full
hour after being sautéed at 190ºF. After 40
minutes, it was still crisp and full of flavor.
At 60 minutes, it was still holding firm, crisp
and texturally sound.
The California garlic also held its shape
and texture after 40 minutes. At 1 hour,
the texture was soft and creamy to the
fingers and the tongue. A buttery aroma
not a good substitute for garlic if you’re
looking for a nice heavy-garlic flavor.”
The lack of pungency makes elephant garlic
an apt ingredient sliced thin and eaten raw
in salads, or as a burger topping. “If you cook
it, either roast it or quickly sauté it. If you
sauté in butter, you want to catch it before it
turns brown. Once it gets to that point, it will
probably start getting bitter,” Fraker says.
M.J. Adams, chef/owner of The Corn
Exchange Restaurant & Bistro in Rapid
City, S.D., likes to roast elephant garlic
in olive oil with thyme and serve it as an
appetizer, allowing guests to smear the
garlic cloves on bread. She also likes to
pickle cloves, she says, adding that an
elephant garlic clove is about the same size
as a radish and looks nice on the plate.
flavor. It also makes a great aïoli ingredient
because it does not have such a strong
flavor and does not leave an aftertaste.
When cooking with garlic, no matter the
type, Adams cautions against being in too
big of a hurry with it. “So many people,
when I see them cook, everything has to be
fast. They burn the garlic. When you cook it
slowly, the flavors can develop,” she says.
Elephant garlic can be about the size of an orange, and it is easier to peel than regular garlic, Fraker says. For other uses, he suggests chopping it and sprinkling it over pasta, pizza, rice, scrambled eggs or omelets. Or, grill it, giving it a quick char for the smoky
Variety Produce Inc.
Jody Shee is a freelance writer and former
magazine editor based in Olathe, Kan. She
specializes in foodservice, with 20 years of