(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on June 11, 2008. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)

Creoles are among the rarest and most expensive of all garlics, and a little difficult to find.

These garlics are superb for eating fresh with an initial sweetness that builds in heat. They typically have 8 to 12 red to purple cloves per head beneath a white skin, and are tolerant of adverse growing (weather) conditions especially in hot climates. Not all garlic cultivars are well suited to growing in mild winter and warm to hot spring climates but the Creole group do very well in warmer climates. Creoles are also longer storing garlics than most.

ImageSome Creole Garlic varieties
Ajo Rojo - A stronger Creole Garlic. Harvests mid-late season - stores 7 to 8 months. Ajo Rojo is almost red, whereas Burgundy is almost purple. Ajo Rojo is usually more more pungent than Burgundy although some years it can be milder, depending on weather.

Burgundy - A mild Creole garlic. Harvests mid-late season, stores 7 to 8 months. Burgundy has a mild, yet full flavor with only moderate heat.

Creole Red - Harvests mid-late season, stores 7 to 8 months. Creole Red has a robust, rich flavor that seems very deep and earthy and yet with enough pungency to let you know you're eating a real garlic (but not so hot as to be painful).

Cuban Purple - Harvests mid-late season, stores 7 to 8 months. Cuban Purple is the darkest of the Creole garlics, with a very rich, earthy garlicky flavor with very little pungency (hotness when raw) and makes an excellent pesto, salsa, etc. A hardy garlic that is great for growing in Florida and all along the Gulf Coast.

Germinador - A mild Creole from the South of France. Harvests mid-late season, stores 7 to 8 months. Nicely flavored, little or no pungency, a delightful garlic for eating raw.

Keeper - wonderful flavor, plump 5 to 9 cloves/bulb, mid-harvest, stores 6 to 7 months.

Rose du Lautrec --A Unique and Robust French Creole.-- Harvests mid-late season - stores 7 to 8 months. Rose du Lautrec is a beautiful Creole that is almost as long storing as its fellow French Creole, Germinador but has a much more robust flavor. It has a modest amount of pungency. It has a deep sort of muskiness but with an influence of dijon mustard or a hint of horseradish.

Some Other Creole Garlics are Labera Purple, Pescadero Red, Spanish Benitee, Spanish Morado and Morado Gigante.

ImageGarlic for planting should be pre-ordered now (or before late summer) to assure availability. By the time I think of planting garlic very few varietiesImage are still available.

Some sources for buying garlic:

PlantScout vendors

Garden Watchdog vendors

[1] Genetic Diversity among U.S. Garlic Clones, Gayle M. York, Adam D. Henk, and Christopher M. Richards, J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 129(4): 559-569. 2004

Photo Credits: Many Thanks to Hood River Garlic for use of their photos. http://www.hoodrivergarlic.com/

Read my other garlic articles here:
Why would anyone grow A Stinking Rose? For Garlic of Course!
Why Grow Garlic?
Hardneck Garlic for Northern Climates
Softneck Garlic for Southern Climates

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
©2004, Barefoot in Paris, All Rights Reserved

1/2 cup garlic cloves, peeled (about 1 whole bulb)
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream, half-and-half, or creme fraiche

In a small saucepan, bring the garlic and oil to a boil, then turn the heat to low and cook uncovered for 5 minutes, or until the garlic is lightly browned. Turn off the heat and set aside. The garlic will continue to cook in the oil.

Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a large pot of salted water, bring to a boil, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are very tender. With a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes from the water, reserving the cooking water, and remove the garlic from the oil, reserving the oil.

Process the potatoes and garlic through a food mill fitted with the medium disk. Add the reserved olive oil, 2 teaspoons of salt, the pepper, cream, and 3/4 cup of the cooking water to the potatoes and mix with a wooden spoon. Add more cooking water, if necessary, until the potatoes are creamy but still firm. Season to taste, and serve hot.