Yesterday I cleaned up and weighed the last of the 2016 garlic harvest. I started digging the garlic in mid-June, starting with the Turban varieties like Uzben, Xian and Red Janice. From there I dug the artichoke types like Lorz Italian and Simonetti plus the rocamboles, including Russian Red, German Red and Spanish Roja. The last bulbs I dug were the silverskins, Silver White, Nootka Rose and Idaho Silver, which I finished digging on July 12th. I planted out 196 cloves of garlic last fall, and harvested 195 bulbs, which is truly one of my best survival rates ever.
I knew from the early ones I weighed that it was going to be a good year. One of the best growers the last couple of years is Simonetti, an artichoke type originally collected from the village of Simonetti in the Republic of Georgia. It has a relatively mild flavor, and it’s one I like to roast whole.
The biggest bulbs this year came from the artichoke Red Toch. This cultivar hails from the small Georgian village of Tochliavri. The eight bulbs weighed 23 ounces, giving them an average weight of 2.9 ounces. The largest weighed 3.5 ounces, and the individual cloves are huge.
Russian Red is also a good performer for me here, and as a rocambole type it is known for its good flavor. It has large cloves that are reasonably easy to peel, and it also stores well (for a rocambole). The 12 bulbs in the below photo weighed right at 24 ounces total, giving them an average weight of 2 ounces each. That put it in a dead heat with another rocambole called Killarney Red, and the silverskin Silver White, which both also averaged right at 2 ounces per bulb.
The poorest performer this year is a rocambole I planted for the first time called Carpathian. Those 8 bulbs only weighed in at 3.55 ounces total, for an average weight of .44 ounces. As soon as they were dug, even before curing and weighing, I made the executive decision they would not get planted again! I have too many other cultivars that do perform well here for me.
Another newcomer that under-performed is an Asiatic type called Asian Tempest. I’ve grown it before, and it did better then, so I will likely give it another shot next year. Asian Tempest is interesting in that it forms bulbils at the top of the scape, and sometimes even along the middle of the flower stalk, which you can see in the below photo. For that reason I didn’t cut the scapes for this one, and let them do their thing and form the bulbils. You can plant them out and they will eventually make more bulbs, but it will likely take more than one year. I will stick to planting cloves and see if it gets a bit bigger next year. This year the 8 bulbs averaged .83 ounces, which put it in next-to-last place but still considerably bigger than Carpathian.
Xian is a Turban type that did well last year as a newcomer. It averaged 1.73 ounces per bulb this year, making it the second largest Turban type, behind Red Janice which averaged 1.83 ounces/bulb. The Turban types are not good keepers, but they have earliness going for them. I typically use them first, and I think most of them are pretty tasty, especially when raw.
I used another Turban type called Uzbek to make something I’ve never made before. Ninniku Hachimitsu-Zuke is a traditional Japanese ‘sweet pickle’ that is made by infusing garlic in raw honey. I found the recipe in Tsukemono: Japanese Pickling Recipes by Ikuko Hisamatsu, along with recipes for infusing garlic in miso and in soy sauce. Both the honey and the garlic is edible, and is used both in the kitchen and for medicinal purposes as a cold remedy. My Honeyed Garlic has been infusing for three weeks now, and the honey has taken on the flavor of the garlic. In another week I will put the jar in the refrigerator, and likely start another one while the garlic is fresh and plentiful. I used five whole bulbs of the Uzbek in the below jar, after peeling the cloves first.
I will likely try making the garlic in soy sauce soon, Ninniku Shoyu-Zuke. It’s a two step process that involves allowing the garlic to sit in rice vinegar for two weeks, then pouring off 2/3 of the vinegar and replacing with a soy sauce/sugar mixture. In this recipe, the vinegar, soy sauce and garlic are all used in the kitchen. If you think about it, many recipes call for garlic, soy sauce, vinegar and something sweet like honey. I see lots of uses for both recipes, though the Honeyed Garlic is pretty tasty when eaten by the spoonful. I call that preventative medicine, easy to take since I love both garlic and honey.
The total haul for the 2016 garlic harvest was just over 21 pounds. That should keep us supplied in garlic for quite a while! I hope you have enjoyed this review of the 2016 garlic harvest here at Happy Acres. I’ll be back soon with more happenings, and until then Happy Growing!