This is a very fashionable vegetable to grow on the allotment at the moment – if ever, anything can be ‘in fashion’ on the plot. Allotmenteers are hardly ever considered to be trend-setters in the culinary world, and would probably far rather it stayed that way.
Elephant garlic is apparently more like a leek than a garlic clove and I reckon its sudden popularity is because although it still tastes like garlic, it is has a more subtle, mellow and sweeter flavour. It’s called elephant garlic, because its cloves are HUGE! I harvested my swollen bulbs last week and I’ve left them to dry for a few days on a piece of chicken wire stretched between two bricks, just off the ground, with a pane of glass over the top to speed up the drying process and to keep the late summer rain off the bulbs. Some of the bulbs hadn’t divided into cloves, but instead were just one whole bulb – referred to by gardeners as rounds.
I’ve now bought them back into the kitchen, removed the papery skin, chopped and tailed them and stuck them on a baking tray. After drizzling olive oil over them and seasoning them with coarse rock salt I’ve put them into in the oven for 1 and a half hours at 200 degrees. Once removed from the oven they can be purreed further in a blender and frozen. However, I like to simply spread the now slightly mushy bulb / clove, while still warm, onto thick, crusty French bread. It makes the best garlic bread imaginable. Sometimes the best things in life are simply simple.
Due to their mild flavour, they’re also ideal for slicing raw and chucking into salads.