The Purple-Striped 'Chesnok Red' Garlic

comments (0) October 30th, 2010

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ChrisMcLaughlin Chris McLaughlin, contributor
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Chesnok red is one flavorful, hardneck garlic.
Photo by Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.Click To Enlarge

Chesnok red is one flavorful, hardneck garlic.


Photo by Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

I'm a garlic freak so you'll forgive me if I pass on growing that impostor, Elephant Garlic. Despite its in-your-face size, Elephant garlic is much milder than its cousins - and that just won't do in my kitchen. Truth be told, Elephant garlic isn't actually a garlic at all, but rather a leek in garlic clothing, if-you-will.

No, I like my garlic to have big time garlic flavor and aroma - and I don't mind it to the point of firey. My favorite garlic  in my garden this year is the purple-striped, Chesnok Red (which I purchased from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange). Ooohh, la-la.  It's a gorgeous, hardneck variety that's also referred to as a 'rocambole' garlic type. What this means is that it grows a "scape" that becomes curled at the top and ends up with seeds. Here's the beauty of rocambole garlic - the scapes are delicious when harvested as they begin to curl (before they straighten out again).

Chesnok Red is loved for its rich flavor as general cooking garlic and renowned as a baking one. When it's roasted, this hardneck turns super sweet and buttery. While softneck garlics have a longer shelf life, I refuse to give up this jewel of a gourmet bulb. It has a permanent spot in my garden.

Chesnok Red is one of the later-maturing garlics and harvesting them late in June is normal. I think it's probably best to plant them in the beginning of October, but I'm always late so I end up harvesting late in July. But, I just can't tell you how worth it they are.

posted in: garlic, Chesnok Red garlic, heirloom garlic, rocambole