garlic

Allow me a rant, just a little one…

Big inhalation now…so I can feel the rant build up a little.

Garlic. I’ve mentioned it a little before, but have restrained myself in the past, because…it gets me a little het up. (Garlic and canned tomatoes, but I’ll save that one for another post.)

Today though, I’m letting the garlic flag fly…

I love cooking, and I love using garlic in my cooking, and yet in recent times, there haven’t been too many dishes with even the hint of garlic in them. Why? Because I don’t want my garlic to come from China. Nor Mexico, or Argentina and these are the countries that we frequently import our garlic from here in Australia. I have nothing against these countries, I just really want to eat Australian garlic. From my readings, it seems that the majority of our imported garlic is from China where every bulb is rayed, sprayed and then resprayed against ‘critters’ coming in at quarantine. (Strict quarantine laws in Australia, require many products to be treated with methyl bromide.) That is a lot of handling for a little bulb, that by the time it gets to the supermarket shelf it’s old, wrinkled, soft, and bless its little heart ready to try and shoot. Tasteless and disappointing.

Where have all the different varieties gone? Where have our garlic options gone?

Garlic happily sits in so many flavoursome dishes. It brings a tasty depth, that few other vegetables can compete with in the same way.

I’m getting garlic envy from all the lovely blogs I have seen with tantalizing pictures of their freshly harvested garlic. I recently bought some “spring garlic” or green garlic from the farmers markets and it was divine. Stalks and all, a little bit more subtle than when its has been dried, but truly delicious and locally produced. Every meal that those little green stalks and bulbs went in to was treated as it should. With gratitude and thanks, and more than a little smacking of lips. It makes a meal. (Maybe wouldn’t make a cake…but I wasn’t going for the garlic chocolate cake combo anyway.)

Garlic is planted in the cooler months and harvested in the hotter months, approximately 17-25 weeks after planting. If you have any space at all, I highly recommend giving growing your own a go. I don’t have any. I tried doing it in pots and it just wasn’t in the right position for growing. So now I just get to look longingly at others growing it and put my nose in the air in a huff when I see the sad little excuses for garlic for sale in the supermarket. That is, until I see some locally grown garlic for sale and then will be pouncing on it with gusto.

So tell me, where does your garlic come from? What types can you get? Do you grow it? Do you find it tricky to grow? I would love to hear your garlicky stories…

*****

More information on growing garlic here.

 

 

Advertisements

46 thoughts on “garlic

  1. Very good post! This spraying of the garlic business really irks me, why oh why can’t a country as big as ours grow enough for everyone? I know there are the ‘off’ times, but it still frustrates me. I even resorted to a jar of garlic *gasp* this year while waiting for the plants in our garden to bulb up in an effort to avoid the nasty sprayed variety.

    That’s a shame that your pots are in the wrong position. Is there anyone you know with a backyard that would let you grow some in return for some of your yummy bread or cakes? It really is the easiest thing in the world to grow – our cloves for planting all come from the organic fruit shop and work fine, although I have a couple of friends who have great success with a variety from “Diggers”. Even if they don’t all bulb up, they are still wonderfully flavoursome and grown without the use of chemicals..

    Like

    • Christine I know a few people that buy jar garlic just to avoid the sprayed kind when other local garlic isn’t available.
      It would be interesting to find out why we can’t produce more of our own garlic here in Australia. (I know there is a Victorian company that is trying to change things around), I did try and contact a commercial garlic grower but they never got back to me.
      That would be a good idea to do a swap with someone with a backyard, just need a backyard though. Everyone I know in these parts live in apartments!

      Like

  2. Brydie, I buy most of my garlic every year from friends who grow it – I’ll post on my blog once they have more to sell. They grow organically, in NSW, and sell if for about $35/kg (I’m not 100% sure what the price will be, the garlic is still curing so not quite ready yet). It’s quite expensive, but I know the wonderful people who grow it, and each year I buy about 3kg worth, break it into cloves and freeze it and it lasts me the whole year. If you want to look at last year’s, the link is here, you can give them a call and reserve some if you like.

    http://figjamandlimecordial.com/2009/12/22/garlic/

    This year we semi-successfully grew garlic in a big laundry tub – can’t grow big bulbs in Sydney I don’t think, but we do have little ones and they’re magnificently pungent. The rain played silly beggars with them last week though, and we had to pull them all out or risk them rotting. I have had other friends who grew garlic in a tub on a balcony in the city, so it can be done, but like you said, it needs to be the right spot – I think it needs quite a bit of sun.

    Like

    • The sun is what I lack for growing in pots, especially over the winter months when it’s doing its growing. Just not the right aspect for it unfortunately.
      That’s great that you have been growing your own. Are you going to use them green or dry them out? Little as they may be, but still grown by you and delicious.
      Thanks for the heads up on your garlic growing friends. There is nothing better than growing something your self, and if not knowing where else it was grown!

      Like

  3. Maybe you just wanted to hear from local people- to get ideas?
    My cousin grows garlic and I get mine from him. I could grow it- but my husband is very ANTI- garden right now. (He likes orderly flowers growing in orderly beds!) Anyway- the gourmet garlic coming from my cousin’s farm is marvelous. Not great big heads- but great big flavor- AND he is local to me, so it is very nice.
    Website:
    http://www.charliesgourmetgarlic.com/

    Like

    • Definitely not Heidi, I would love to know everyone’s garlicky stories not just from round here. I would love to know if other countries have the same problem or it’s just uniquely to Australia.
      Maybe you could sneak in a few garlic bulbs thoughout the garden?…if questioned, could be an odd bulb flower coming up? 😉
      That’s great you have your cousin to get stocks from.

      Like

  4. Looks like there are alternatives a plenty Brydie! Our garlic is sitting under the snow right now. The one thing we managed to plant at the right time this autumn. (I forgot my tulip bulbs and will have to put them in pots I think as the ground is solid now). We are trying some different varieties this year. Garlic stores really well in a cool but not too cool storage place, we were using our home grown stuff 9 months after we had pulled it up. I’ve never frozen garlic.

    Like

    • Hmmm storage. If only. Very limited storage where we are. Cupboard space is precious, and not particularly cool, and freezer…ahh, one day I will have a singular freezer unit to place all my abundance of food goodies in!
      I’m still in awe that half the world seems to be covered in snow at the moment. The idea seems so novel, (says me sweating and considering my icecream options.)

      Like

  5. It is easy to get fresh locally grown garlic in Italy, but you would expect that. You can really taste the difference. I’ve tried growing it without much success. All I can manage is flat leaf parsley, basil and mint – better than nothing.

    Like

    • Definitely better than nothing Debra. I can’t even do those. Rosemary seems to be it…just, and my blueberry is holding for dear life despite being consumed by the worlds biggest caterpillar.

      I wonder what Italians would have to say about getting their garlic inferior tasting and imported?

      Like

  6. Oh yes I feel the same about garlic. Sorry to have to say but we are eating our own home grown garlic this year & it is wonderful! This is the first year we have grown it & it hasn’t let us down at all. However when we buy it is this garlic http://www.fourseasonsherbs.com.au/shop/products/Tasmanian-Purple-Garlic–%252d-6-Pack.html which is locally grown here in Tasmania. Lost of the green grocers stock it, so we are very blessed. I totally recommend it!!

    Like

    • Thanks for that link Katie! I’ll do some investigating. For some reason I thought you were in Brisbane, (didn’t realise you lived in the chosen land ;-)….love, love, Tasmania.)
      That’s so wonderful that you have been growing your own, and enjoying it. Golden little bulbs they are…

      Like

      • Oh yes we love Tassie too – so blessed to live somewhere so beautiful. However it isn’t actually that easy to find organic local food here, which is rather sad considering the landscape. Things are starting to change though which is exciting!

        Like

      • Katie I have heard that before that it was hard to get local organic food down there. A lot of what is grown is shipped off else where?
        Tasmania to me is like the promised land. One day, one day…

        Like

  7. Hi there. We’re in Melbourne, so it’s slightly different again – although might be helpful for Melbourne readers! We source our garlic, along with the rest of our fruit, veg and more, through CERES Fair Food (http://www.ceresfairfood.org.au/). They’re committed to buying locally, organically, seasonally. It’s been really great – we’ve had a couple of different varieties through them although I’m not sure what the current type is. It’s around $3.50/100g and gets delivered to a local food host who people pick it up from. We really enjoy the whole system 🙂

    Like

    • I wonder if foodconnect will have something similar maybe down the track. I remember you saying that ceres was similar to foodconnect. Can you buy it in the smaller amounts or you have to buy bulk?
      For any Melbourne readers definitely a link to check out though, so thank you!

      Like

  8. Awesome that more people are speaking up about this Brydie…. the miserable bits of garlic at the shops & even the markets are nothing next to their freshly grown friends. I manage to buy locally but have to buy in bulk and then I dry some but freeze most in cloves, its not as good as fresh but as far as I know it isn’t that easy to come by local fresh garlic all year round.
    I do believe if most people realised how much poison was on their imported garlic (but fruits and veg all around) they’d be shocked. Keep bangin’ that drum girlfriend…., it all starts there
    😉

    Like

    • They are miserable aren’t they Anna. (the garlic not people that is!) It’s so frustrating that we allow this happen. If people knew more about it, rather than just buying blindly…*sigh* I guess it goes for so many other things as well. Garlic is just one tiny part, but a part I feel really strongly about so unfortunately that drum may get quite noisy 🙂

      Like

  9. Hello! I have just followed a link here because of the title of your blog. Love it! I have no idea where you are in Australia, but we grow a lot of certified organic here on our farm in Daylesford every year. Most of it grows inbetween the rows of apple trees in the orchards. We grow a few different varieties every year and specialise in an old Italian variety called Calabrio. The hundreds of mms of rain we have had over the past few weeks might mean that we don’t get the crop we’ve been hoping for but all being well, we’ll be pulling it up in the next few weeks and selling it around Melbourne and Daylesford at farmers’ markets.

    Like

    • Kate thank you for following that link, which enable me to find yours.
      I’m in Sydney so a bit of a trek for your garlic, but given the situation it maybe considered!
      I really and truly hope that your crop is not terribly effected by all the rain. I would love to see the different varieties that you grow. That seems to be something I am definitely lacking, seeing any different varieties. I hope anyone that buys your garlic enjoys every precious clove.

      Like

      • We started harvesting our gorgeous, juicy bulbs today and wow I am excited! Garlic is ace! Such a brilliant crop to grow. Pulling it I was reminded of this post though and though I had better come back and report back.

        Like

  10. I was just reading this post, when you commented on mine.
    I too feel so strongly about garlic. There’s a couple of greengrocers near us that seel australian garlic & a market thats on every sunday where I can find local organic garlic. We’re also about to start purchasing some veg from a local organic farm, I’m so excited.
    Maybe next we’ll grow our own, I’ll send you some.
    Have a great week!

    Like

    • It’s funny how blog land works isn’t it.
      That is wonderful that you can get australian garlic in your area. Actually I don’t feel quite as pessimistic about it as I did before reading everyones great comments and finding out quite a few people have access to local garlic. (Maybe I’m just in the black hole for garlic.)
      That’s great that you are going to start getting local organic veges- I think I would be excited too!

      Like

  11. Love your blog – have been following it for quite a while. I agree so much with your comments re chinese garlic and I hate buying it too. I won’t buy Peruvian asparagus or anything else from overseas – but I have to have garlic. I had reason today to comment at down-to-earth about Italian olive oil on Rhonda’s kitchen bench. Environmental footprint just too big when we have great Australian virgin olive oil on sale in Aussie supermarkets – e.g. Cobram Estate.

    Like

    • Thanks Jan, that’s really kind.
      The olive oil, I completely agree. We have some wonderful local olive oils, and the Cobram Estate one is certainly one that we quite often buy…But… I can also see the other side. It can be incredibly hard if you are at the supermarket and local australian oil is $30 for 2 litres and an Italian one on special $28 less than it is usually and double the volume. If you use a lot of olive oil , but are on a budget it can incredibly hard making that choice. (It does go for anything you buy though, hard to get that balance of economical, ethical, local, organic…)
      I really appreciate you putting your opinion out there though.

      Like

  12. I refuse to buy Chinese garlic too. I wasn’t sure about the Mexican stuff although I figured it would also be ‘treated’ before entering Australia. I seem to be able to get organic garlic most of the year at The Natural Foodstore, Forest Glen (Sunshine Coast) – didn’t know it could be frozen – thanks Celia. Now I will stock up for the lean times. I hate the taste of bottled garlic – I can taste the difference in cooked food – like cheap restaurant garlic bread – yuk

    Like

    • Garlic paste in a jar I think always tastes different. The paste always reminds me of Pizza Hut Pizza, (something I don’t feel the need to revisit!) I haven’t tried the bought whole cloves though, for some reason I think these would taste different to the paste?… I have heard of a few people now buying these instead of imported stuff as it is generally labeled as Australian.

      Like

  13. I won’t inflame your garlic envy by showing you pics of mine, but my local farmers market sell garlic fairly frequently (ie every second market or so) and it is so fantastic that if you buy enough it will last until the next market!

    Like

  14. I too am totally with you on this rant. I hate the Chinese garlic that is so lacking in taste and so loaded up with toxic sprays etc. I do buy some other imported garlic when there is no locally grown option available (which sadly is most of the time). I don’t think I could do bottled garlic. Yuk. Also, I would question where that garlic is coming from. Our hopeless labelling laws allow a lot of flexibility in how things are labelled and you may find that you are just buying the chinese garlic that has been ground to a paste with some Australian water/oil, in Australia, which will qualify it for being labelled as “made in Australia with local and imported ingredients” or just “Australian made”. Now that is a subject of a different rant… !! 🙂

    Like

  15. I swear, the instant I saw your pic at the top of your post, I knew it was Chinese garlic! Those heads are so clean and so perfect that they appear to be artificial. I’m lucky enough to have a garden and I grow my own garlic, but it is never clean and pretty – even when I trim it properly, and dry it so the outside few layers of dried skin can be removed, it never looks as clean as does the Chinese stuff, which I think is bleached.

    But I have noticed that garlic is much more pungent when it is very fresh – and the problem is that much of what is available in stores is old. Right now, my own garlic which was harvested in July, is losing its good flavor (and when it starts growing a green stem in the middle, it is near worthless!).

    I live in Oregon in the US, and quite near California, where most of our domestic US grocery garlic comes from – it begins to be harvested in the spring each year, and that first crop of fresh garlic is simply wonderful. So, it’s freshness and local availability that’s the key.

    Like

    • So often the garlic that is available, (especially the Chinese one) will be so old on the stores shelves, that every clove will be just that little bit squishy. And yet to so many people that is all that’s available here. Maybe one day we will have more locally grown garlic hitting our supermarkets.
      Dr enjoy every last piece of your own garden garlic, (dirt and all!)

      Like

  16. Crikey, this was a popular post – garlic is obviously close to people’s hearts, Good. Such an excellent plant it is. It must be hard being able to get hold of any decent garlic on rare occasions only. Feel like I shouldn’t rub it in, but you did ask. We’ve been keeping our garlic going for about 8 or 9 years now. We grow masses as we eat loads and try and grow enough for the year. Since we moved our plot to the field, we’ve managed to grow the best garlic ever – huge fat juicy cloves. I guess the trouble with trying to grow it in pots is that garlic is a heavy feeder. As our garlic always shrivels up and sprouts in the spring, we’ve tried to freeze and pickle some of it this year, so we’ll see how that turns out. One day you’ll get your garden and there will be no stopping you.

    Like

  17. I’m thrilled that this topic has encouraged so many people to comment. Really thrilled.
    No, rub it in Choclette. That’s fantastic that you have grown your own for so long…One day I will get a growing area like yours…one day, one day. (I’ll be interested to see how your pickled ones turn out too.)

    Like

  18. I am a HUGE garlic fan too, but also refuse to buy any that has been imported (as goes for all produce). I do grow my own, to some success (small-ish bulbs that need lots of peeling, but with a huge amount of flavour) and I also buy it from the Farmer’s Market. There is an amazing stall there that is seasonal, that sells the most divine garlic, which I always stock up on. Luckily, when they are not selling, I can usually get NZ garlic from the supermarket, and if I can’t, we go without!
    It’s really not fair though, is it, to not be able to buy produce from your own country… makes me very mad!

    Like

    • Thats great Amy, then at least you have a few options with your garlic options…and even better that you have your own home grown as your first option. I’d much rather small with big flavour than big with nothing!

      Like

  19. Pingback: Spiced Indian Potatoes- Frugal Friday « Cityhippyfarmgirl

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s