While we were shopping on Saturday I spotted the first wet garlic of the spring on one of the stalls on Norwich market. For the uninitiated, wet or green garlic is the first fresh harvest of the season and it is called “wet” because it has not been hung up to dry so does not have the normal papery skin. Wet garlic has a very short short season it is very much in demand by French, and increasingly English, gourmets!
Wet garlic has a flavour and texture quite different from that of dried garlic – it is creamy, strong but not at all bitter. You can use it as you would traditional garlic and it is also lovely in eaten in its raw state (just make sure you nearest and dearest eat some too!). It makes a fantastic fresh garlic butter or you can rub a whole clove on toast drizzled with olive oil as I did today for an accompaniment to our spicy lentil soup!
As the outer skins have not formed the whole head can be chopped and used as a seasoning. The heads can also be roasted whole and the creamy cooked garlic is delicious spread on toast or mixed with butter and used on vegetables or in baked potatoes. While the stalks are fresh and green they can be cooked like leeks or finely sliced and used to make soup, omelettes or garnish salads.
The price for wet garlic is generally more than that of dried garlic and some premium supermarkets charge as much as £1 a head. However local markets tend to be much cheaper – mine cost just 50 pence each on Norwich market.
So if you’re out and about at a local market look out for wet garlic and give it a whirl in the kitchen. You won’t be disappointed! Oh and in case you’re wondering I’m sure it will keep vampires at bay the same as the traditional dried garlic!