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Elephant Garlic

Kanika Khara Jun 3, 2019
Often mistaken for regular garlic, elephant garlic has a mild, slightly sweet flavor. Read on to know how to grow and roast this mild-flavored spice.
Belonging to the onion family Alliaceae and species Allium ampeloprasum, elephant garlic has large cloves and a warm, mild, and slightly sweet flavor. It is a variant of a garden leek, but its flavor and appearance is closer to that of garlic.
It is a hardy plant possessing large blue-green strap like foliage, central rib, and large pink or purple color flowers that usually bloom in spring and summer.
The plant that bears flowers grows bulbs consisting of 5 or 6 large cloves, while plants that do not flower, develop only one large, symmetrical clove known as a round.
The cloves which are comparatively larger than regular garlic cloves, having a papery skin are used for both culinary purposes and propagation. Unlike our regular garlic, elephant garlic has a shorter shelf life and so, should not be kept for very long.

Growing Procedure

This plant grows best in a rich, deeply cultivated, and well drained soil. Unlike other garlic, it is an easy to grow home garden vegetable that thrives well in warm and humid climates. It is usually planted by hand in the fall season and harvested in the coming summer.
It likes partial to full sunlight and requires drip or trickle irrigation throughout its growing season. It is recommended to mulch the plant immediately after planting. It gets easily infected by pests like onion thrips and maggots.
It is also known to suffer diseases like downy mildew, bulb and neck rots, leaf blast and purple leaf blotch. Hence, purchasing disease-free bulbs, rotating crops, hand hoeing, and herbicide applications are some ways to protect the plant from pests and weeds.
Elephant garlic can be hand harvested and to know which is the right time to harvest, one needs to look out for some indications like leaf tops turning dry or bending toward the ground. Hence, while harvesting garlic gently dig out the bulbs using a digging fork to loosen the soil and keep the freshly harvested garlic bulbs in a cool, dark, and dry place.

Roasting Process

Its cloves are used in many recipes, but remember that it is not a substitute for regular garlic. It is used in preparations that call for a subtle hint of garlic, without overpowering the rest of the food.
Elephant garlic can be used in its raw form in salads, or sliced and sauteed or roasted in butter to give off a sweet and creamy flavor. Roasted garlic is generally used to give an exotic flavor to soups and many other recipes.


  • 1 head elephant garlic with many cloves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or more)
  • Salt and pepper


Preheat an oven to 425 ºF and meanwhile, slice off the garlic head. Keep it in a piece of foil and drizzle olive oil inside its head until it is completely filled. Wrap tightly with foil and keep it on a cookie sheet. Bake until tender and fragrant, for around 30 - 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool down.
Peel the outside part of the garlic bulb and then squeeze each clove. Your roasted elephant garlic is ready to use.
While selecting in the store, purchase a pod that has a firm, equally textured heads without soft spots or areas of browning. Also due to its short shelf life it should be kept under refrigeration and used in a timely fashion.