Saturday Spotlight: Lorz Italian Garlic

This is the latest in a series of posts that I’ve done about my favorite varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs we grow at Happy Acres. To see my other Spotlights, and those from other garden bloggers, visit the Variety Spotlights page.

Today I want to shine the spotlight on a garlic variety I’ve been growing for the last five years. It’s called Lorz Italian, and it’s an artichoke type that has consistently done well for me here since I started growing it. It’s also one of my favorites in the kitchen, which is another reason I keep growing it.

Lorz Italian garlic curing

Lorz Italian garlic curing

Lorz Italian is said to have been brought from Italy to Washington State in the late 1800’s. Even though it hails from the U.S. Pacific Northwest, this softneck variety is well adapted to areas with hot summer weather too. Our garden is located in USDA zone 6b, and we get cold winters with very little snow cover plus hot spring weather and very hot and humid summers. This year has been a wet one, with over eight inches of rain falling in June as the garlic crop was sizing up and beginning to mature. Lorz Italian has handled all that quite well, and the average bulb size is even a tad larger than last year.

Lorz Italian garlic

Lorz Italian garlic

In our garden, Lorz Italian matures in the mid-season, after the early Asiatic/Turban types and before the Silverskin varieties. The above photo was taken in early May of this year, as the bulbs were beginning to size up. You can see the stalk is about as big around as my index finger, which is a good sign there’s a big bulb forming below ground level. In the below photo, you can see one of those big bulbs right after digging in 2013.

tLorz Italian bulb right after digging

Lorz Italian bulb right after digging

Artichoke type garlic bulbs typically have multiple layers of cloves that overlap much like the petals on an artichoke. Lorz Italian generally has around 12-15 cloves per bulb, though it can have up to 20. The outer cloves are of a nice size, and it has fewer of the smaller inner cloves that some artichoke varieties have. Though Lorz Italian is a softneck garlic, under certain growing conditions it can send up a scape. I have not seen that here on any that I have grown. You can see the size of the cloves in the below photo, which shows cloves ready for planting.

garlic cloves ready for planting

garlic cloves ready for planting

Lorz Italian is a good keeping garlic, and typically stays in good shape for six to eight months after harvest. Of course, the keeping quality of any garlic depends a lot on how it is cured and stored.

trio of Lorz Italian garlic

trio of Lorz Italian garlic

In the kitchen, it is more flavorful than most artichoke types, which are the kind you typically find at the grocery. When raw, it has a spicy heat that will get your taste buds tingling. I speak from experience here, since I did a taste testing just recently! As with all garlic, the flavor mellows when cooked. I really like Lorz Italian for roasting whole, where the flavor really shines.

Lorz Italian(L) and Russian Red(R) garlic for roasting

Lorz Italian(L) and Russian Red(R) garlic for roasting

Back in February I roasted one head each of Russian Red and Lorz Italian so I could do some tasting. Despite the fact that Russian Red is a rocambole type that is known for its wonderful flavor, I thought Lorz Italian tasted better after baking. I’m not the only one either who thinks Lorz Italian is a great tasting garlic. Slow Food USA has included it on its Ark of Taste, which is “a living catalog of delicious and distinctive foods facing extinction.”

I hope you have enjoyed this spotlight on a garlic variety that is well adapted to a wide range of growing conditions, and is great tasting in the kitchen either raw or cooked. Seed garlic for Lorz Italian is available from a number of sources, and I got mine from Filaree Garlic Farm. I’ll be back soon with another variety.



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11 Responses to Saturday Spotlight: Lorz Italian Garlic

  1. Daphne says:

    I miss having softnecks as I like to braid them, but the hardnecks give me scapes, so I’m not complaining. How long does it keep? I’m only growing one kind now. I find it easier as I kept getting my varieties mixed up.

  2. Lisa says:

    Thanks for this post. We live in the same zone and I have only grown hardneck garlic. May try this garlic.

  3. Michelle says:

    Lorz Italian is a good one. It’s in my garden for the third year this year, though my specimens aren’t worth showing off because they’re all stunted by a severe rust infection. It kept quite well for me, I was still using the last of it this spring. I don’t really do anything special to store my garlic, it hangs in a mesh bag in my pantry.

  4. Those are some giant garlic bulbs, Dave. Very impressive. I have had varying luck with garlic. I find what works best for me is the silver soft-neck garlic grown from grocery store bulbs. I am anticipating harvesting my bulbs soon, but they aren’t going to be anywhere near the size of your magnificent bulbs. I planted 27 cloves and I think they all made bulbs. I would like to freeze some, but don’t know the right way to do it. Any suggestions?

  5. Margaret says:

    That variety sounds like a winner – I’ll add it to my list of varieties to try in the future. I’m trying a whole bunch of new varieties this year that I picked up at a garlic festival last September. Looks like they may be ready for harvest in a couple of weeks or so and it will be so exciting to dig them up to see how big (hopefully!) they got. There are so many wonderful varieties, that the hard part is finding the room to try them all.

  6. Norma Chang says:

    Sounds like a variety I would like to try because of it flavor and keeping quality, adding to my list.

  7. Dave's SFG says:

    This one looks good. If I decide to grow a softneck someday, maybe I will give this one a try.

  8. Echo Wu says:

    Hi Dave,

    What a beautiful looking garlic. Thank you for the introduction to this variety of garlic. I have found your Saturday Spotlight to be very useful and I have since then planted several vegetables introduced by you.

    Do you plant softneck garlic in autumn as you would with hardneck garlic given that your winter is cold? Or would you plant softneck in early spring?

    Thank you and have a lovely day!

    • Dave says:

      Hi Echo,

      I’m glad you are enjoying the Saturday Spotlight series. I’m working on another one at the moment. I plant the softneck garlics the same as the hardneck types, in late October or early November. You might need to plant a bit earlier in your area, and then give the garlic a good mulch.

  9. Echo Wu says:

    Thank you, Dave. I will give this softneck variety a try and see how it does here in Hudson Valley.

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