Sweet Squash and Spicy Garlic

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We’ve been holding garlic tastings along with an open farm day for four years now.  This year was our first time holding it in October, and therefore pairing the garlic with a winter squash tasting, rather than tomatoes.  The opportunity to taste 6 different kinds of raw garlic is exciting to many, overwhelming to some, and nauseating to the unfortunate few.  Those who came this year seemed to really take the tasting seriously, sharing thoughtful comments and scoring.  We had around 20 visitors, but not everyone wrote down scores for the tasting, so the stats aren’t very scientific.  What the heck, it is fun to see how the varieties rate from year to year anyway.  Who knows if the differences come from individual taste buds, the soil and precipitation that year, or perhaps just the individual heads that were chosen for sampling.  Without further ado- here are the results of the garlic tasting.

img_3491Garlic varieties were rated on heat and flavor.  Here the averaged results for heat and flavor, from highest score to lowest:

  1.  Loco Red
  2. Phillips
  3. German Extra Hardy
  4. Romanian Red
  5. Elmer’s Topset
  6. German Porcelain

Loco Red also won for heat.  This variety was given to us by Lori Brandolini of Shady Bean Farm in Eden, VT.  There was “wild” garlic growing in the garden when she arrived and she continued to grow it out for years, dubbing it Loco Red.  We’ve now been growing it out for around 3 years, and it has gotten a lot bigger.  It should be noted that German Porcelain is always rated as the mildest garlic, and that sometimes is what people prefer, despite it’s losing status.  One comment referred to it as a “good starter garlic”.

If you’d like to see the garlic tasting results from previous years, check them out:

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For the squash tasting we roasted slices of all the squash with a little olive oil.  We didn’t include any pumpkins in the tasting, because they are generally not that delicious straight up texture wise- better made into soup or pie.  If we really wanted to be fair we would have roasted all types and also steamed and mashed them as squash really vary in their moisture content and texture- some making fantastic soup or mash and others better roasted.  It was complicated enough as is though- only so much kitchen and oven space to go around.  We asked for scoring based on sweetness and overall flavor.  Here are the averaged results from high to low.

  1. Buttercup
  2. Sweet Meat
  3. Lower Salmon River
  4. Butternut

I was not surprised that Buttercup won.  I definitely concur on that one.  I remember the first time I was able to taste roasted Buttercup side by side with some other varieties and realized just how much sweeter it is!  I personally would rate the Lower Salmon River higher than Sweet Meat, but the numbers tell otherwise.  The Lower Salmon River was a new variety for us this year from Adaptive Seeds.  They are pretty and pink, and fairly productive.  The Sweet Meats really have not been good keepers, they all got soft spots and we won’t have any to store.  They were also the most mouse preferred in the field, that might say something about sweetness too.

Thank you to everyone who came out and helped with the tasting!  Hope to see you again next year.

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