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Five: garlics

A quick guide to some of the pungent alliums found on Borough Market’s stalls

“BLACK GARLIC HAS UNDERGONE THE WONDEROUS TRANSFORMATION KNOWN AS THE MAILLARD REACTION”

Black garlic

Put simply, black garlic is garlic that, through ageing, has undergone the wonderous chemical transformation known as the Maillard reaction. Left at ambient temperatures for 50 days, it comes out soft, squidgy and spreadable, with a complex flavour reminiscent of sticky date, sour tamarind, and mushroom ketchup – perfect for adding a rich layer of umami to whatever you’re cooking.


Smoked garlic

Typically hot smoked over wood chips (and therefore partially pre-cooked), smoked garlic, available at Turnips, can be used to add layers of mellow, savoury flavour to just about anything a smoky element would improve. Try using the cloves to stuff roast chicken, infuse into gravies, stews and sauces, or add another dimension to garlic butter, mayonnaise or aioli.


Solo garlic

Also known as ‘single clove’ or ‘pearl’ garlic, this small pink-and-white striped bulb looks to the untrained eye a lot like regular garlic, but underneath its papery skin each head consists of just one large clove. Grown using a planting method from southern China and sold at Chegworth Valley, it is delicate, gently perfumed and – sigh of relief – requires much less fiddly peeling than its multi-clove cousins.


Wet garlic

This young, immature garlic from Paul Wheeler Fresh Supplies is harvested before the cloves are fully formed and is sold ‘wet’ – meaning fresh, rather than dried. Milder and slightly sweeter than its older dried cousins, it can be eaten raw without it completely overwhelming the palate. Enjoy it stalks and all, sliced into salads or finely chopped and scattered over dishes as you would spring onion.


Wild garlic mustard

Noel Fitzjohn at Fitz Fine Foods makes some of the finest mustards around – and this is one of our favourites, making the most as it does of the short-lived season of this mildly pungent leafy green, which Noel forages himself in the woodlands of rural Kent. Stir it into just about anything that’d appreciate an injection of garlicky goodness, mix up with vinegar for a salad dressing or dollop on burgers.