Elephant garlic (Allium ampeloprasum var. ampeloprasum) is a perennial onion. It is characterized by a tall, sturdy bloom stem and broad, flat leaves.
It has a milder flavor than garlic and can be eaten raw in salads, roasted, or sauteed, but should not be used in place of typical garlic in cooking. It is occasionally mistaken for solo garlic.
You may be astonished to learn that this enormous garlic bulb is not actually garlic. Indeed, elephant garlic is related to leeks and has a considerably milder flavor than conventional garlic.
THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO ELEPHANT GARLIC
With the start of our Elephant Garlic harvest in earnest, we thought we’d give our fellow garlic enthusiasts a little primer on this colossal bulb and explain what we believe makes it so great – to grow, to cook, and to eat!
ELEPHANT GARLIC-WHAT IS IT?
The term refers to its elephantine bulk, which at first glance appears to be double the size of conventional garlic. However, despite its bulbous appearance, Elephant Garlic is more closely related to the garden leek than to actual garlic, with a reassuringly mild and acceptable flavor.
Read Also: How to grow elephant garlic in pot
As with garlic, the enormous bulb is composed of large, individual cloves that, despite their colossal size, have a surprisingly mild flavor.
While some enthusiasts prefer to eat elephant garlic raw, chopping the bulbs finely into salads as you would chives or spring onions, we believe it is best when cooked.
HOW TO COOK ELEPHANT GARLIC
When roasted whole, Elephant Garlic creates a dramatic centerpiece; after cooking, remove the cloves and allow diners to squeeze out the garlic flesh to taste the warm, unctuous paste within. Alternatively, cut the bulb in half and bake in a hot oven drizzled with olive oil.
Additionally, it makes a delectable, creamy soup—simply mince the cloves and sauté briefly before adding stock, spices, milk or cream, and a few potatoes to thicken.
The scapes of the elephant garlic plant are a unique culinary delicacy. These young green plant tops are unbelievably soft and sweet-comparable to asparagus, but better! Slowly stir fry them in a little oil or butter, season them with balsamic vinegar and plenty of salt and pepper, then dip them in garlicky mayonnaise. You’ll wish these gourmet delights were accessible all summer.
HOW TO GROW ELEPHANT GARLIC BY YOURSELF?
Elephant garlic, for those of you with the space and motivation to cultivate your own, is a stunning addition to any garden, with gorgeous flower spikes reaching a height of 1.5 m.
It prefers full light and moist conditions and should be planted between September and October for a June harvest.
Clear the area of weeds and old plants, then dig it over and incorporate some fertilizer. Plant each seed clove 20 cm apart to allow these enormous cloves to grow into a mono bulb.
This generally breaks into several distinct cloves and produces gorgeous late spring flower spikes.
Remove these (and eat the delectable scapes!), so that the plant’s energy is directed entirely toward the bulb rather than the bloom. By late June, your own ripe elephant garlic should be ready to pick and consume.
HOW TO CULTIVATE AND USE OF ELEPHANT GARLIC
Elephant garlic bulb size in comparison to a €1 coin
The mature bulb is divided into big cloves with papery skins that are utilized for culinary reasons as well as propagation.
Additionally, much smaller corms with a hard shell grow on the bulb’s exterior. Many gardeners overlook these, but if they are planted, they produce a nonflowering plant with a solid bulb, essentially a single huge clove, in their first year.
After their second year, this single clove separates into numerous cloves, much like a typical bulb does. While it may take an additional year, it is worthwhile to plant these miniature bulbs (one bulb can yield several) in order to boost the harvest.
Unlike much other garlic, elephant garlic does not require annual harvesting or division and can be left in the ground without much risk of decay.
If left alone, the plant will form a clump with numerous flowering heads (one stalk and flower from each clove, once the bulb divides).
These are frequently kept in flower gardens for ornamental purposes and to deter pests. When they become overcrowded, the plant may suffer, with stunted growth and possibly rotting. Generally, elephant garlic is not propagated by seeds.
Elephant garlic, like regular garlic, can be grilled whole on the grill or baked in the oven and then spread on toast with butter.
Fresh elephant garlic is mainly water and foams up when cooked on the stove or in a glass dish in the oven, similar to boiling potatoes.
Drying for a few months in the basement decreases the moisture content and brings out the full flavor.