It’s probably in your pantry. You may well use it the majority of times you cook. It’s more than likely to be in many savoury restaurant or take-away dishes you order.
So, let’s learn more about…garlic.
Garlic is a plant in the Allium family, a close relative of onions, leeks, shallots and chives.
Australia currently produces between 3,000 and 3,500 tonnes of garlic each year. It is propagated from cloves and collectively the cloves form the bulb.
We import over 13,500 tonnes of garlic into Australia, however the introduction of improved, higher yielding varieties, and a greater appreciation of Australian grown products at a retail level, has increased domestic demand.
Provided water for irrigation is available during dry periods, garlic can be grown anywhere. However, it is best grown in the cooler climates on our shores, thus it is seen as a winter/spring crop. These requirements lend themselves to areas such as NSW, South Australia and Victoria. The cooler winter regions harbour the largest growers in Australia with the Sunraysia and Gippsland good examples of prime growing areas.
Garlic is ready to harvest when its leaves begin to soften, droop a little and go dry. When planted in autumn, depending on the climate, harvesting can begin around October (for farms located in south east Queensland for example) whereas picking and preparing garlic in the southern-most part of Victoria won’t start until December or even January.
Mechanical harvesting of garlic has become more popular in recent years. A cutter is run just beneath the bulbs to sever the roots and the plants are pulled by hand. Excess soil is then brushed off and the tops and roots are clipped with hand-shears.
The cloves need to be stored so they dry and cure. Depending on temperatures, this can be for up to 3 months. Growers monitor for sprouting, mould or root development, any of which could occur based on the storage conditions.
In the kitchen and health benefits
Being very versatile, garlic is commonly used fresh, dried, powdered or minced in numerous dishes. Most cuisines utilise garlic in their signature dishes, from French & Italian to Indian & Chinese.
Garlic has purportedly many health benefits including boosting the body’s immune system – the original superfood! So as long as you (or your partner) don’t mind ‘garlic breath’, then we certainly suggest you make use of this amazing culinary vegetable in your next meal!
Get to work
The Harvest Trail supports many garlic growers and this is the perfect time of year to jump on board. If you’re curious to know more, or are looking to work on a garlic farm this spring, then contact the Harvest Trail Information Service on 1800 062 332.