What is Elephant Garlic?

A viewer wrote to ask me why I use small garlic cloves when I prepare food rather than the larger, easier to peel, elephant garlic. The reason is that elephant garlic really isn’t garlic at all, but are a bulb that is related to leeks. You know how leeks are milder than onions? Well, that’s the difference in flavor between elephant and regular garlic. Elephant garlic carries a more subtle, sweet flavor and is a poor substitute when you want the robustness of garlic. Elephant garlic bulbs can be quite large and sometimes one clove is bigger than an entire head of regular garlic.

When you’re buying elephant garlic, follow the same guidelines as when you’re shopping for ordinary garlic. Choose heads that are firm with plenty of dry, papery covering. Do keep in mind that elephant garlic is far more perishable than regular garlic so be sure to use it shortly after purchasing to maintain optimum flavor. It also has a higher sugar content so if you’re cooking with it, keep your eye on it because it will brown and burn quickly. Elephant garlic is a wonderful when added raw to salads or to soups and stews, when just a hint of garlic flavor is desired.


Hi - today is Wednesday 5th August 2015.

Just read the above and as a veg gardener who grows both Standard garlic and Elephant garlic I have observed that my Elephant garlic stores better than my normal garlic. I was still eating the crop I had sown back in September 2013 and harvested June 2014 up until July this year when the new crop was harvested and seasoned - I lift the garlic and leave all the leaves on while they dry with the leaves becoming very brittle (this tells me they are cured and ready for storage) - I then cut the stalks off leaving about four inches and store in open cardboard produce trays in my frost free shed. The bulbs need to have free flowing air around them - placing them in the fridge/plastic bag/warm indoor room will reduce greatly the storage ability of the Elephant garlic.

The standard garlic I grow is the Purple Wight soft neck garlic and perhaps a different variety would store better - such as a hard neck variety (Elephant garlic is hard neck). The difference is a soft neck does not throw up flower spikes (Scapes) which should be broken off to prevent flowering and growth energy going into flower and seed production rather than bulking up the cloves.

I agree on the milder flavour and differing use - for me Elephant garlic is a vegetable to roast whole, slice, chop or roughly crush into soups, stews, stir fry's, curries etc. while true garlic is a herb or seasoning ingredient which I always use if the recipe states "rub with garlic" or "add two crushed cloves of garlic" but for garlic chicken - I stuff with elephant garlic and the then soft large cooked cloves can be eaten (if you like garlic a lot :0) )

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