Allium Sativum Ophioscorodon
Porcelains are popular everywhere but are a favorite in eastern Canada, where cultivars like Music and Majestic dominate at garlic festivals. Even here in BC, some growers only deal in Porcelain varieties.
Bulbs, Umbels & Loose Cloves
In part this is attributable to the fact that Porcelains were the beloved favorite of many Eastern Europeans who either brought the cultivars with them to North America when immigrating, or who were already here and rejoiced when discovering the cultivars had been brought to this continent in the 1980's by fellow immigrants or by garlic enthusiasts who swept into Eastern Europe in the 80's to collect the myriad of cultivars that had been inaccessible until after the Iron Curtain had come down. It's also largely due to how cold tolerant Porcelains are, making them a reliable choice for any Canadian grower.
Perhaps the most elegant of garlics, Porcelains are pleasing to every sense we possess, but especially the nose. Some cultivars, when freshly dug from the earth and pressed to the face, will smell like substances we would normally never associate with garlic. For instance the cultivar Northern Quebec has the surprising odor of smoked salmon! As the name suggests, their outer wrappers gleam white once cleaned of the earth and they carry themselves like expensive china, towering up to seven feet when the scape is left intact.
On the Tongue
Their flavor does vary, but not as widely as some groups. They tend toward being hot and aggressive, with a wasabi type heat rather than that of a cayenne pepper. Porcelains often remind us of some elusive delicacy we've had in the past. Like wine, Porcelains beg to be spoken of in metaphor and earthy comparisons, "A skosh of oak with a lingering hint of thyme and chestnut." The cloves are always large and few per bulb, making them a good choice for those who like copious amounts of garlic with little peeling.
In the Field
Porcelains are quite cold hardy, which is another reason they are so popular in eastern Canada. They can be sensitive to dry conditions and so the soil should be kept moist throughout its growing cycle. Leaves are long and slender, as elegant as the bulbs below, and scapes usually make one well defined loop before uncurling. Umbels contain 100-200 viable bulbils the size of rice grains and take 3-5 years to mature into adult bulbs. We've seen small, 4 cloved bulbs in just two years. Don't be surprised to see mature, large bulbs with just 2 cloves, but the average is 4 or 5. The small number of cloves makes it a more expensive garlic for commercial production since so much is kept back for the next season's seed.
Cultivars We Typically Carry
As Porcelains go, this is a bit less pungent than most. A nice reprieve if seeking the assertiveness and clove characteristics of a Porcelain but not the usual bite. Originally collected from the village of Cichisdzhvari (careful when saying that one aloud) in the Central Republic of Georgia.
Another good standard Porcelain and a favorite of Al Pickets, who originally supplied Boundary Farm (who supplied us) with their stock. We'll let you know more about the particulars next year once we've grown enough to spare more for our own experiments.
Like the French, the Italian name seems to come with certain expectations of grace and beauty, and this bulb delivers. Rumor has it that Italian Porcelain was named such by some folks in the Creston area of BC and that it has its roots in the variety called Music (which, of course, was brought to North America by Al Music... an Italian!)
A great cultivar for BC growers and a signature garlic from Ontario where Majestic was first developed and named under the wise eye of Paul Pospisil at Beaver Pond Estates. Large, regal bulbs and a fine Porcelain flavor and heat. Well named Paul.
Music is very popular in eastern Provinces and is gaining ground in the West now too. Originally brought to North America by Mr. (Signore?) Al Music, from Italy. Doesn't everyone want to have a garlic named after them some day?
Vigorous grower and stunning bulbs. This is the one that several of us here at the farm have determined smells like smoked salmon when freshly pulled from the ground. Quickly becoming a favorite in BC.
Polish comes to us from the folks at Tom Ouchi's farm in Vernon. A beautiful representative of the Porcelain family with potentially enormous bulbs. Strong character.
Our second in the line of Rasa branded garlic. A Porcelain with heritage from the Purple Stripe family and so full of the potent healing properties of garlic. Strong but not overly so, with scrumptious garlicky flavor.
Rosewood comes to us highly recommended from Boundary Farm. The bulbs were beautiful and it knocked our socks off in taste tests. A Wasabi like kick that fills the head... or rather empties it!
Perhaps the best choice out of all the Porcelains for the climactic conditions experienced in BC since it can tolerate "wet feet" a bit better than many others. Came to us from Boundary Garlic last year and we'll let you know more about the flavor characteristics this fall.
Our first Porcelain here at Rasa Creek, Yugoslavian is a reliable and known cultivar throughout BC. Large umbels with prolific bulbils and beautiful, large cloves. Hot and assertive flavors.
Grown in the remote woodlands north of Shuswap Lake, this porcelain is a local favorite. Outstanding flavor profile and vigor in the fields.