Most Australian garlics belong to one of these garlic groups. Each group has its own flavour characteristics when raw, sautéed or roasted and varying heat and flavour intensity.
Subtropical garlic is sweet. Sautéed to crisp it is aromatic with a sweetly pleasant simple garlicky flavor and baked it has a richly sweet garlic flavour.
Hardneck Australian garlic tends to have more of a stronger, richer and sweeter flavour than their soft-neck cousins. You can use it in a range of sautéed dishes however it's best when crisply fried providing a nutty flavour.
Great for salsa’s, Asiatic garlic is spicy hot in its raw form, rivalling the heat of creoles.
If you want to eat or use garlic raw or lightly cooked, you'll probably head for a softneck variety – Artichoke or Silverstein. The most versatile of Australian garlic with simple, direct, vegetative flavours, mild to hot, Artichoke Group garlic lends itself to a range of cooking methods. When sautéed till crisp has delicious mild garlic flavour and roasted it has a mild, sweet earthy flavour which maintains its shape.
Cultivars with the hottest heat belong to the Creole group. Creole garlics are rarely seen in cold climates, so if you see these raw, it is rich, complex and long-lasting in flavour. When sautéed gently, creole garlic creates a beautiful garlic explosion often with a nutty flavour. Roasted it loses heat and is lovely and mellow, with caramel flavours.
GLAZED PURPLE STRIPE
Sauteed, it has a good rich garlic flavour with that great garlic aroma that we love. Roasted, the cloves become gooey.
Great for sautéing, the intense heat and flavour of its massive cloves softens to a pleasurable garlic richness. Also well suited to roasting as it retains its structure and flavours.
To maintain its complex flavours described as floral, earthy and creamy, Rocambole garlic is best sautéed gently.
MARBLED SILVERSKIN PURPLE STRIPE
The flavours rival those of Rocambole Group, with deep, rich and often spicy flavours. Sauteed till crisp it has a delicious, rich garlic flavour. Garlic from this group is also good for roasting as it maintains its structure and caramelised flavours.
STANDARD PURPLE STRIPE
One of the best for roasting, Standard Purple Stripe garlic develop a creamy nutty, complex garlicky flavour.
This softneck garlic is often found on supermarket shelves due to its long storage life. Roasted, it will hold its flavour well. Sautéed till crisp, it has a delicious strong garlicky flavour and less heat than when raw.
Medal-winning garlic varieties to look out for in 2020
The 2020 Australian Food Awards sprang into action last week in Melbourne with the judging and announcement of Australia's best garlic.
Judges meticulously inspected bulbs, peeled skins, tasted cloves and conversed for hours about the competition garlic on the table and the 2020 results are in.
This year the garlic came from VIC, SA, NSW and WA.
Head Judge Penny Woodward (Horticultural Editor of ABC's Organic Gardener Magazine) led the judging panel consisting of Australian Garlic Industry Association judge Trevor Gray, food writer Siu Ling Mui and award-winning chef from Piper St Food Co. Damian Sandercock judged the following bulbs as medal-worthy.
Keep your eyes peeled for the following varieties online and at a farmers market near you:
Franklin River Garlic
Franklin River Garlic, Toora
Kucina Estate Garlic, Bakery Hill
Mirboo Farm White Crookneck
Mirboo Bridge Farm, Mirboo
Tarrawingee White Crookneck
Tarrawingee Tarra Purple
Tarrawingee Garlic, Tarrawingee
Yarra Glen Garlic, Yarra Glen
Wayne's Russian Turban
Fleurieu Garlic, Willunga
Coastwinds Farm Purple Stripe Garlic
Coastwinds Pty Ltd, Mosman Park
Pemberton Purple Garlic
Warren Grange Horticulture, Manjimup
New South Wales
Best in Class (Gold Medal-Winning)
Standard Purple Stripe
Boutique Garlic, Orange