The Culinary garden – society garlic

Society garlic, Tulbaghia Violacea, is starting to appear in many cooks’ herb gardens. All parts of this plant give off a strong garlic smell, although it is the flowers that are most commonly used in cooking. The Tulbaguia Violacea is a perennial plant of 30cm (60cm in flower) that forms a mat 60cm wide. The purple flowers are in groups of 6 to 12, and the leaves resemble chives, but are flat rather than cylindrical. The plant usually blooms in summer, but can also flower in winter in Andalucía. There are varieties with white flowers (‘Alba’), white variegated leaves (‘Silver Lace’) and related species such as Garlic Tulbaguia (Tulbaghia alliacea) with fine leaves and yellow flowers, that also smell like garlic. All parts of the plant can be utilized in the kitchen. The flowers, raw or cooked, can be added to salads as a garnish, or as flavouring in cooked dishes. They are very ornamental and add a pleasant aroma of garlic. The leaves and stems, raw or cooked, are used to flavour soups and salads, and have a milder flavor. The roots have a stronger aroma and are hardly ever used. The plant is easy to grow and can be planted in any well drained soil, although they prefer cool soils. They can resist short droughts and like a sunny position. In the garden they help to ward off insects, and associate well with roses, which protect against disease. There are no known medicinal properties.

François-Luc Gauthier, aromaticultor.

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