Red Sulmona Garlic
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Red Sulmona garlic is small, ranging 5-7 centimeters in diameter and have 8-14 large cloves that are wrapped in a dual layer formation. The outer wrappers of the Red Sulmona garlic are white and paper thin, and beneath the sheath, the creamy cloves are housed in tight, burgundy wrappers. Red Sulmona garlic has a pungent and sweet flavor unique to the variety, and one clove can offer enough garlic flavor for a dish.
Red Sulmona garlic is available in summer.
Red Sulmona garlic, botanically classified as Allium sativum, is a creole and Italian heirloom variety that is one of the only softneck varieties to produce a flower stalk or scape. Also known as Aglio Rosso di Sulmona, the variety was named for the small city in the Abruzzo region in eastern Italy where it is grown. In this area of Italy, Red Sulmona garlic is highly regarded, and local growers braid the long, dried stalks together, which is a traditional way of storing the bulbs. They are often formed using 52 bulbs, one for each week of the year, a testament to the long shelf-life of Red Sulmona garlic. Since the 1980s, production has decreased, and the Red Sulmona garlic was listed on Slow Foods "Ark of Taste" and was at risk of disappearing. To help combat this, the area was honored with a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) which helps with the promotion and conservation of the variety.
Red Sulmona garlic, like other creole types, is a good source of manganese and vitamin B6. It is also a source of vitamins C and B1, as well as minerals like copper, selenium, phosphorus, and calcium.
Red Sulmona garlic can be used in both raw and cooked applications and is sliced, minced, pureed, or chopped to bring out the sweet, pungent flavors. It is traditionally sautéed and used in spaghetti aglio and olio e pepperoncino, two dishes that are ubiquitous with Italy. Red Sulmona garlic can be used in any application that calls for garlic but use sparingly for a light garlic flavor. It pairs well with pasta, crushed red pepper, olive oil, parsley, and parmesan. Red Sulmona garlic will keep for up to a year when stored whole in a cool and dry place. Cut garlic should be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
In Italy, Red Sulmona garlic is not only famous for its strongly flavored cloves, but it is also known for its tasty green garlic scapes. The flower stalks, or scapes, must be removed for the bulb to develop fully. Once harvested, the scapes are pickled in vinegar and then preserved in oil. The final product is known as "zolle" or "zolla" in Abruzzo and is served on cheese platters with crostini or added to pizzas and sandwiches. The scapes also pair well with eggs and are often used in egg dishes as flavoring.
Red Sulmona garlic is native to the Abruzzo region of Italy, located between Rome and the Adriatic Sea. The red-clove garlic variety was named for the city of Sulmona, in the center of the Peligna Valley, set within the Apennine Mountains of central Italy. Red Sulmona garlic is cultivated by a dwindling number of growers who have had growing techniques passed down to them from generation to generation. Today Red Sulmona garlic can be found in Europe at local farmers markets and specialty stores. It is also being exported to Australia and Japan.