Guest post by Matthew; a follow-up to this post about growing garlic in the Midwest.
This was my second try at taste testing garlic, and I broke this year’s tests into two parts because I had 19 samples to try/compare. I hope to do a tasting party at some point to get other opinions, but for now, all we have is my one set of taste buds. (Melissa here to say that I did weigh-in on some of the garlic tasting!)
It’s also a tiny bit tricky thinking it was entirely fair, as some cloves were larger and needed longer to roast, or smaller and less time, and some seemed to sauté faster. How do I get them all equally cooked?
That said, I think this is a reasonable testing and comparison. I didn’t find the wine-like distinctions many garlic growers report in my cooked samples. I don’t eat raw garlic (other than small amounts in pesto, hummus, etc.), so I didn’t bother tasting it that way. I did find tastes that varied in being more or less full flavored, more or less hot, or neither and just downright watery.
My elephant garlic this year seemed to have an “off” taste in both roasted and sautéed tests. Without the off flavor I don’t mind bland sometimes, for example, when I really just want the amazing creamy texture for a dip or soup that doesn’t need to be garlic-heavy. Elephant garlic can be an easy way to get large amounts of mild, roasted garlic puree.
I don’t recall the off flavor from previous years, but coupled with my data that it just isn’t all that productive per square foot, it has been bumped way down in the pecking order of growing square feet.
I found my Inchilium Red to be rather bland, which is at odds with other taste tests, but could be my growing conditions, my seed stock, or weather conditions. I’ll grow it another year or two, and do another taste test or so before I eliminate it overall.
I do have some low grade issues with brown spots on some of the garlic, possibly a fusarium (a fungus that can affect garlic) issue. I rotate my crops, but I save my own seed stock. I’m considering peeling at least one clove from every bulb next year to try to minimize how many spotted cloves get planted.
Otherwise, my tasting results are below. You’ll notice that some are better roasters, others sautéed, and some are meh. I’m using this data, and will be keeping track of how long each variety stores before deciding which ones I’ll grow long term, and which ones to cull from my stable.
I ranked each type and preparation on a scale of 1-5, where 1 is awful and 5 is awesome.
Combining the taste test data with the productivity, I think I’ll give everyone another chance, but if the data remains stable, I’ll probably keep the eleven below, and possibly some of the new ones I’m trying this year. That said, I’m eliminating eight varietals, which is a huge step forward for me!