Elephant Garlic (Allium ampeloprasum var. ampeloprasum)

Elephant Garlic (Allium ampeloprasum var. ampeloprasum)
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Elephant garlic or Russian garlic (Allium ampeloprasum var. ampeloprasum) is not a true garlic, but actually a variant of the species to which the garden leek belongs. It has a tall, solid, flowering stalk and broad, flat leaves much like those of the leek, but forms a bulb consisting of very large, garlic-like cloves. The flavor of these, while not exactly like garlic, is much more similar to garlic than to leeks. The flavor is milder than garlic, and much more palatable to some people than garlic when used raw as in salads.

The mature bulb is broken up into cloves which are quite large and with papery skins and these are used for both culinary purposes and propagation. There are also much smaller cloves with a hard shell that occur on the outside of the bulb. These are often ignored, but if they are planted, they will the first year produce a non-flowering plant which has a solid bulb, essentially a single large clove. In their second year, this single clove will break up into many separate cloves. Elephant garlic is not generally propagated by seeds.

Some people use the young unopened flowering heads as a vegetable.

The plant, if left alone, will spread into a clump with many flowering heads. These are often left in flower gardens as an ornamental and to discourage pests.

There is an annual Elephant Garlic Festival in North Plains, Oregon, which features, among other garlic products, garlic ice cream and “garlic chips” [1].

Categories: Allium | Root vegetables