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Sofievsky garlic are large, round, and slightly flattened bulbs, averaging 3 to 5 centimeters in diameter, and consist of 4 to 7 oblong to oval cloves. The bulbs are wrapped in multiple thin layers of a white-pink, papery husk that is streaked with violet and dark purple stripes. As the layers are removed, each individual clove is encased in slightly thicker skin, and when peeled, the clove is cream-colored to ivory, firm, dense, and crisp. Sofievsky garlic has a fragrant aroma and delivers a pungent, sharp taste when raw, deepening into a milder, savory flavor when cooked.
Sofievsky garlic is available year-round.
Sofievsky garlic, botanically classified as Allium sativum, is a hardneck, striped variety that belongs to the Amaryllidaceae family. First developed in Ukraine, Sofievsky garlic is valued by farmers and home gardeners throughout Central Asia and Eastern Europe for its cold-tolerant properties. The plant is a mid-season variety that can survive in both frost and drought, and it is easy-to-grow, producing favorable sized bulbs with a pleasant, sharp flavor. Sofievsky garlic also can be stored for almost a year once harvested, allowing it to be used as a source of flavoring during harsh winter months. Sometimes known as Sophia garlic, Sofievsky garlic is utilized in both raw and cooked applications to add a pungent, savory flavor.
Sofievsky garlic is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, and manganese and contains copper, selenium, iron, and calcium. The bulbs also contain allicin, which is a compound that has antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Sofievsky garlic is best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as roasting, frying, baking, and sautéing. When raw, the bulbs can be thinly sliced into green salads, minced and blended with oils to be served with bread, or pureed and mixed into sauces such as soy sauce and butter. The bulbs can also be chopped and added as a pungent seasoning into appetizers for a spicy flavor. In addition to raw applications, Sofievsky garlic is popularly cooked, and the bulbs are sliced and mixed into soups, stuffed into cabbage rolls, or minced and rubbed over cooked meats. The cloves can also be pickled for extended use and consumed as a condiment. Sofievsky garlic pairs well with meats such as sausages, pork, beef, and poultry, dill, potatoes, beets, mushrooms, cabbage, millet, cherries, and blueberries. Fresh Sofievsky garlic will keep up to eleven months when stored in a cool, dry, and dark place.
In Ukraine, garlic is one of the most heavily used and popular seasonings, incorporated into many of the famous dishes of the country. Ukraine’s national dish, borscht, is a bright red soup generally made from beets, beef, parsley, potatoes, cabbage, onions, and carrots, and is served with a version of garlic bread or garlic fritters, also known as pampushki. There are over three-hundred versions of borscht, and each family in Ukraine will have a different way to prepare the soup. Garlic is also heavily used in salo, which is an appetizer or snack that is often served during celebrations. The dish provides a high amount of energy through a cut of smoked or salted fat and is placed on a slice of bread with garlic and pickles. In addition to being sliced, garlic can be diced and stuffed with butter into chicken kiev, which was a Ukrainian dish popular in the 1970s. The dish quickly fell out of favor in the 1980s, but with the expansion of trendy restaurants utilizing and updating traditional recipes in the present day, chicken kiev has had a resurgence in popularity and is currently featured at many high-end, Ukrainian restaurants.
Sofievsky garlic was believed to have been created at the Uman Agricultural Institute in Ukraine. The variety was released in the 1990s and became a popular variety in Eastern Europe and Central Asia for its resistance to disease and cold-tolerant qualities. Today Sofievsky garlic can be found through small farms and local markets in Eastern European countries such as Ukraine, Belarus, and Romania, and in Asian countries such as Russia and Kazakhstan. The garlic in the photo above was discovered at the Green Market in Almaty, Kazakhstan.