In this post, I’m going to return to discussing the different types of gourmet garlic available by introducing the 'Marbled Purple Stripe' variety, the ‘everyman’ of the garlic world. There is some argument as to whether 'Marbled Purple Stripes' are a sub-type of the Purple Stripe grouping or whether they are a distinct category of their own. Genetic evidence suggests that they do in fact deserve their own separate classification, and many growers support this division. Some common examples of Marbled Purple Stripes that you may find locally include Siberian, Metechi and Bogatyr.
'Marbled Purple Stripe' cultivars are a hardneck variety and thus flourish in colder climates due to the extended period of dormancy, but they are also one of the few hardnecks known to perform well in warmer regions, making them a reliable choice for most climates. As an added bonus to coastal regions, 'Marbled Purple Stripes' are more forgiving of wetter conditions than other varieties tend to be.
The plants are tall and robust, with wide medium green leaves. Scape stalks are thick and will grow quite tall if not cut. Like other hardneck varieties, the scapes will curl and then straighten as they mature. As mentioned in my post on garlic scapes, 'Marbled Purple Stripe' cultivars must have their scapes removed in a timely manner or the size of the bulbs at harvest may be significantly reduced. Mature plants are typically harvested mid-season.
Atop the scape is a large umbel that contains an abundance of small to medium-sized bulbils. The size of these bulbils makes increasing your planting stock relatively inefficient, since in their diminutive size means that they will take approximately three years to produce small bulbs that are fully differentiated into individual cloves. If you are willing to put in the time, however, saving the bulbils is useful since Marbled Purple Stripes contain fewer cloves compared to bulbs of similar size, requiring you to retain a greater amount of stock for seed.
As their name would suggest, the outer skins of 'Marbled Purple Stripe' cultivars are glossy white with an abundance of medium to dark purple marbling, stippling and striping. Medium-thick and easy-to-peel clove skins range in color from tan to brown, with several cultivars boasting deep purple markings. The bulbs are large and full-bodied, as are the plump, juicy cloves, which average between four and seven per bulb.
In culinary terms, 'Marbled Purple Stripes' can be somewhat average, the ‘everyman’ of garlic. This can work in the varieties favor, however, since its temperate taste appeals to a wider range of palates. Moderate to very hot when raw, 'Marbled Purple Stripes' have a solid and non-complex garlic flavor. They are usually best when eaten raw, since they can become somewhat bland in flavor and grainy in texture when cooked. Certain cultivars, including Siberian, Brown Tempest, and Bogatyr, retain their excellent garlicky taste and texture and merely become sweeter and milder after cooking. You may have to experiment a bit to find the best recipes for your particular cultivar! 'Marbled Purple Stripe' garlics have a moderate storage life, approximately six to eight months.
Next post: Glazed Purple Stripes!