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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.