Judging garlic freshness

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Joined Dec 7, 2009
I suppose the smaller refrigerated 3 packs of garlic are much better than those in the bulk bins at the market right?

Do you judge garlic by how hard it is?  If you found a touch of brown on one clove would that make the whole bin suspect?
 
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Joined Jan 27, 2007
just choose the garlic that looks bulky and clean. means the garlic you get has enough oil that can give flavor to your cooking. also buy only which you need for days or week.
 
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Joined May 2, 2010
just choose the garlic that looks bulky and clean. means the garlic you get has enough oil that can give flavor to your cooking. also buy only which you need for days or week.
Candy ken,  Do I store garlic in the fridge please?
 
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Joined Aug 13, 2006
Not sure what you mean by the "bulk bins at the market" - as opposed to the refrigerated three pack.  I would think the packaged garlic would be like packaged tomatoes, grown to be identical, same size, easy for packing, and therefore hybrids developed for size rather than taste.  I don;t trust what is pre-packaged.  Also in packs you can't feel them and smell them.  They shouldn;t smell of mold, They should be very hard - not cave in when you press them, and the skin underneath the first layer should be shiny and tight. 
 
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Joined Feb 1, 2007
Kevin, you may be suffering from a misconception.

There is nothing fresh about "fresh" garlic----not in the sense that it is harvested and sent to market. Garlic goes through a curing process; which, essentially, means hanging to a particular stage in which the stems dry fully, and the paper tightens.

Depending on type (hardneck or softneck), garlic will last from 6-13 months before it dries out or sprouts.

So, in theory, those in the bulk bin and those in the 3-packs are the same. Personally, I dislike anything that is prepackaged, because I can't examine it. So I never use the three-packs. When my home-grown garlic runs out I buy from the bulk bins.

Look for garlic that is firm to the touch, that appears bulked out, and whose papers are clean-looking and tight. The outer wrappers will be looser and scaly, but not the inner ones. A slight give to the cloves is ok, but you don't want softness.

There is no reason to store garlic in the fridge.

A brown spot on one clove is indicative only of a brown spot on that clove. Doesn't mean there will be spots on other cloves in that bulb. There are many causes of those spots, from insect bites to plant diseases. They (along with actual rot and mold) are much more common now that our primary garlic sources have changed from Gilroy (California) to Asia and South America.

If you've got some space (or even a large container) there's no reason not to grow your own garlic. It's about the most maintainance-free garden plant there is. And it provides a chance to sample garlic in forms unavailable to most cooks, such as green garlic, true fresh garlic, and the scapes that form on hard-neck varieties.
 
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   Hi Kevin,

   The others pretty much covered buying garlic from a supermarket.  I would just urge you to follow KYH's advice and start growing your own garlic.  Garlic in the supermarkets doesn't resemble fresh garlic all that well.

   Here is a Cheftalk thread regarding growing your own garlic.

   Get yourself an area for this falls planting!

   enjoy the garlic!

  dan
 
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The prepackaged stuff can be soft and mushy with no way to tell. I buy bulk bin and look for firm heads.
 
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If you're going to buy prepackaged garlic, as Mario Batalli says, only buy the one that comes in the following package:

 
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Joined Aug 21, 2009
I read the thread on growing garlic and I think I am going to give that a try in the fall.  I will be growing it in containers, but I don't see that as a problem.
 
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Joined Aug 13, 2006
We get fresh garlic at the market in season (I believe it comes up soon).  The only drawback it has is that the skin (which in regular garlic is like paper) is very thick and what is left when you peel it is very tiny. 
 
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Joined Aug 21, 2009
I suspect the garlic I buy from some vendors at the market is imported but I do know that the local farmers sell it when it's in season and I make sure I buy it from them when I can.
 
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Joined Feb 1, 2007
I will be growing it in containers, but I don't see that as a problem.

Not a problem at all. Most garlic can be spaced as tightly as 4" apart and will develop full-sized bulbs.

The deeper the container the better, however. Given the room to do so, garlic roots can go down as much as four feet. The containers I use are 15" deep, however, and the garlic (and multiplying onions, btw) do just fine.

Don't forget: Garlic is normally fall planted.
 
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Thanks, KYH... I'm going the container route for anything edible because my dog uses the garden as her "comfort station" so everything I grow in the back garden in the ground is strictly ornamental for that reason.  I'm planning on growing tomatoes, peppers, beets, beans and peas in containers out back and in the ground.. lots of perennials! 
 
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Leniek, it might be a bit late to first start peas. They are hardy plants and not heat tolerant. Down here, for instance, the traditional pea planting date is Valentine's Day.

I don't know anyone who's grown beets in containers, so that should be an interesting experiment. No reason it shouldn't work, though.

You do know that each beet "seed" is actually a cluster, and you'll have to do some serious thinning?

For the vining plants, like the beans, what I do is put a tall pole in the center of the container. From its top I run string, in a tipi pattern, to the edge of the container. Then plant a seed near each string. The beans will grow up the strings. I take the same approach with all vineous plants, and have grown beans, peas, and cucumbers in containers that way.
 
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what is left when you peel it is very tiny.

Much of this depends on the type of garlic, Siduri. F'rinstance, from your description I'd guess you're getting artichoke type, whose hallmark is many small cloves, arranged in concentric rings. If you cut a head in half the short way and looked down on it, the arrangement of the cut cloves would resemble what you see when cutting the top off an artichoke.
 
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Joined Aug 13, 2006
Hi KY

I'm not sure, it's just the only kind i;ve ever seen fresh, though the italian garlic normally has big cloves.  Maybe they;re simply small because it's early in the season and that's when they sell them fresh, and they just haven't grown yet.  I haven't seen any yet, so i can;t check.  I rarely see the small clove garlics here, though. 
 
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Joined Feb 26, 2007
I just managed to get my hands on some really good fresh garlic.  Big fat purple skinned ones that the "paper" is a bit hard to remove, but oh my, the flavour and aroma, plus the size of the cloves is amazing. They come loose in trays, so it's choose your own. Yum.  There is some imported c**p but it next to flavourless.

Gotta get me some garlic in the soil now as it is autumn, and let it look after itself.

Had a look yesterday.  There's old garlic in the trays now.  Yuk.  Looks skinny and the skin comes straight off it.  I'd rather use garlic powder when I run out of my purply garlic.

But the ginger is fat and fresh - I won't buy it any other time. I'll use dried ground ginger instead.
 
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Joined Dec 7, 2009
Thanks for all the great replies.  I have been so busy with my window cleaning business in Denver that I have not checked the forum for a while.  I appreciate your help.
 

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