Two weeks back I bought garlic at a Cortelyou farmers' market stand. I talk about that here. I went back to the market to buy Rhubarb today and saw that the two prime farmers were selling green porcelain garlic, out of the field maybe a month or so ahead of schedule. One of the farmers was selling the very same garlic you see on the right. At the food co-op, I bought the "USA" grown garlic you see on the left. It was refrigerated, which means it will sprout shortly, but I wanted a more garlicky flavor than I was getting out of the white bulbs I bought two weeks ago.
I know that refrigerated garlic stores long, as long as it never comes out of that 35 degrees, but I can't say from experience how long it will last before sprouting. So I now have a test specimen.
There are three significant differences in the look of these two garlic bulbs. The roughness, the roots, and the longer cut of the stem of the reddish garlic on the left, and the smooth, root-scooped, short and clean stem of the white garlic on the right. Today at the farm market I confronted the man at the register about the source of his white garlic. You would expect him to say that it was theirs, and he did. Do you want it, he asked. I said no, but also that the scooped roots are a common practice of Chinese processors. He again stated that they were theirs, stored from last year.
Nearby in his stand were the porcelains you expect to see at this time -green leaves attached and bright white bulb. As I said in my former post, there are garlic varieties that will store this long in good conditions -Silverskin and Creole (neither look like the one on the right). Now that the season is running again, I hope to see these cheap whites disappear.
I turned over and over whether or not I should go to the market manager. I didn't. I like that farmer and maybe I am completely off-base. Any market manager should know whether or not this produce is in season, and should be able to spot an imposter. So, for now, I leave it to them and the customer.