Red Sulmona Garlic (Aglio Rosso di Sulmona) is barely known outside the world of gourmets, chefs and those who have been on holiday to Abruzzo Italy. However, when trying to recreate a little bit of authentic Abruzzo cooking this is often the forgotten ingredient, and to be frank once you savour the difference between this garlic’s cloves and all others you will be hooked enough to grow it yourself and want it every day!
Red Sulmona is renowned for its delicate taste without any hint of bitterness, the latter being greeted with joy for anyone who has unsuccessfully tried to make Bruschetta or a simple Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino and ended up with a horrible acidic mess. The secret to these simple key Italian dishes lie in its principal ingredient – ‘great garlic’ and with the liberal use of the sweet Red Garlic of Sulmona they taste exactly as they should.
From the outside the white bulbs look like any others; it’s only when you whip off their thin outer skins that you see their reddish purple waist jackets. This type of garlic is a must for those who believe in natural antibiotics to help fight off aliments; the garlic has some of the highest Allistatin concentrates found in the garlic & onion family – (this is the natural antibiotic found in this vegetable family and which thankfully hasn’t become resistant to drugs!) A recommended holistic flu & cold remedy from the Campo di Fano area where this bulb is cultivated in Abruzzo is to simmer a couple of glasses of water with 5 slices of lemon, 1 bay leaf and 2 cloves of unpeeled Red Sulmona garlic and drinking this before bedtime as soon as you start to feel peaky.
Unlike run-of-the-mill GM supermarket garlic where you seem to need to double the amount of garlic needed within any recipe to find any sort of the flavour that so many cook books describe, these chunky headed bulbs pack a fine pungent punch and if it says use 1 clove that is all you will need in trying to recapture the essence of so many perfectly Italian simple lunches on a hot summer’s day.
Abruzzo has seen the best of times and worst of times over the last few centuries something that has taught its population not to let anything go to waste and this includes ‘garlic shoots’ which are quite unique to this type of garlic and called Zolla. Picked one month before harvest these young shoots are preserved in Olive Oil and perfect used in omelettes and chopped with a little rosemary and prosciutto to make a wonderful stuffing for chicken or stuffed lamb.
The Sulmona Red Garlic Consortium, (the Consorzio Produttori Aglio Rosso) offers Zolla, Garlic Cream and braids of bulbs online and is worth a visit for anyone considering a different kind of stuffing ingredient for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
For those eager to grow this beautiful self-propagating garlic, the time for planting is November ready for harvesting in July. The bulbs are hardy and easy to grow, whether it’s in pots for those without gardens or a vegetable patch they will do well and act as a natural repellent against aphids. We recommend the Italian Seed Specialists ‘Seeds of Italy’, who specialise in supplying seeds from Italian fruit and vegetable regional specialities – you can buy Red Sulmona Garlic online for £2.85 plus shipping.
Useful English/Italian Translation Tip
Red Sulmona Garlic – Aglio Rosso di Sulmona
Consorzio Produttori Aglio Rosso
Bulbs are for shipping within the EU only, Zolla & Garlic Cream can be shipped throughout the world
Seeds of Italy, Franchi Seeds, Est. 1788 Official Website