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What Is Elephant Garlic?

Posted by Matthew Garlic Shaker and Kevin Vadala / garlicshaker.com on

What Is Elephant Garlic?

For those who aren’t a fan of fresh tasty garlic’s powerful pungency and characteristic strong but buttery taste, elephant garlic might be and better choice for you. Like other types of garlic, it belongs to the onion genus but it’s a variation of the garden leek. It is not actually a true garlic despite its name. It is called a garlic because the flavor is very similar to various types, but is much milder and it looks like garlic. This why it is preferable to eat for some people. It even forms cloves like regular garlic bulbs do. People are often attracted to it because of its size. Elephant garlic is huge compared to its counterparts.

Elephant garlic has a tall and thickly built stalk with a very large garlic-like bulb at its base. Its bigger size (some can weigh up to a pound, and grow up to 4 to 5 feet) leads many to assume that it contains a more powerful flavor and potency than garlic, but the opposite is true. Bigger might mean better for some in terms of a raw cooking product, but not a more powerful flavor per se. The great news is that elephant garlic also contains Allicin just like regular garlic does. This means you get the health benefits of garlic in elephant garlic while get the unique nutrients in leeks and onions.

Elephant garlic tastes sweeter and milder than garlic, and the taste is often compared to an onion with a garlicky aftertaste. However, elephant garlic still does taste a lot like its younger brother, but without the whizz-bang punch on the pallet. It helps to think of elephant garlic as a refined and sensitive older brother to other types of garlic. For this reason, many like to use elephant garlic raw in salads or in meals that don’t need garlic’s delicious, but intense flavor. Some also like to use elephant garlic because they think it has a tendency to make skin more water resistant.

Sound good? Well, when buying elephant garlic, you should look for the same qualities as found in normal garlic. A firm elephant garlic with a thin papery outside is the one you want to buy. Elephant garlic can also be cooked or baked easily after purchase. It is tasty as a spread on bread. When cooking elephant garlic it is best to think of it as a closely related ingredient, but not the same. That way you can integrate its unique qualities into the dish you are creating. Many garlic based dishes are delicious with elephant garlic substituted for regular garlic.

If you plan on growing elephant garlic, you should plant it at prime times like autumn and spring. Planted elephant garlic also has the bonus of providing additional cooking ingredients. Ever had chives? Well you can cut off pieces of immature elephant garlic plant tops and use them in soups, stir fries, or on top of a potato! Or garlic fries- the best of both worlds. These cuttings can be stored in the freezer to be used for later.

Elephant garlic is a great variation of garlic that can be a welcome addition to your cooking. If you have ever needed a sweeter and abundant form of garlic, seek out elephant garlic. Unlike other forms of garlic, it doesn’t rot easily if you don’t harvest it. We love it! Try some and let us know what you think. Elephant garlic for the win! Check this out to peel garlic in 30 seconds or less! 

  • Elephant Garlic
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Onions
  • Cooking
  • Health Benefits of Garlic
  • Garlic Fries
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