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Metechi garlic is a hardneck, marbled purple stripe variety known for an intense heat when eaten raw and a robust, spicy flavor when cooked. Originating from the Republic of Georgia, it is highly adaptable to various climates and is exceptionally resilient, making it a reliable choice for gardeners. Its tightly wrapped cloves allow for an extended storage time of about 6 months.
Introduction to Metechi garlic
Metechi garlic is a hardneck, marbled purple stripe variety that hails from the Republic of Georgia. Often described as “Great Bulbs of Fire,” this garlic is renowned for its intense heat when consumed raw, producing a sensation that can only be described as fiery. Its cloves are enveloped in thick, parchment-like wrappers that are predominantly white but reveal more and more purple striping as you peel them away. When you reach the cloves, you’ll find them covered in dark brown skin streaked with purple and featuring long, sharp pointed tips.
This robust garlic is highly adaptable and thrives in a broad range of climates, making it an excellent choice for gardens in both northern and warmer states. Metechi is known for its resilience; even in adverse weather conditions, it continues to prosper. The garlic’s foliage is a deep, dark green with a purplish haze, and the plants themselves are large, thick, and healthy-looking. Metechi matures late in the season and is one of the last garlic varieties to be harvested. One of its most notable features is its longevity; the tightly wrapped cloves contribute to its extended storage time of about 6 months.
When it comes to flavor, Metechi is a force to be reckoned with. Raw, its heat is almost overpowering, but cooking mellows it out while preserving its robust garlic taste. It’s often noted for its exceptional performance in roasting, and its strong, spicy, and robust flavor holds up well when cooked. Metechi is also long-storing, making it an ideal choice for those who like to keep a steady supply of intense, flavorful garlic on hand. Whether you’re a home gardener seeking a resilient and robust garlic variety, or a culinary enthusiast in search of powerful flavors, Metechi garlic is a stellar choice.
Flavor profile of Metechi garlic
Metechi garlic stands out for its extraordinary spiciness and robust flavor profile. When consumed raw, it delivers a fiery heat that lingers, distinguishing it from common grocery store garlic, which is typically milder and less complex. Even when compared to other gourmet varieties, Metechi is known as one of the hottest, earning it the nickname “Great Bulbs of Fire.” Cooking Metechi tones down its heat but retains a robust garlic flavor that outlasts most other varieties. Its strong taste is especially pronounced in dishes like stews, roasts, and sauces, where it doesn’t shy away from making its presence known.
Growing Metechi garlic at home
Growing Metechi garlic is surprisingly easy, given the strong, robust flavor your efforts produce. Here are the basic steps for fall planting and harvesting in mid-summer:
- Prepare the Soil: Choose a well-drained site with full sun exposure. Loosen the soil to about 12 inches deep and mix in organic matter or compost to enrich it.
- Choose the Cloves: Break apart your Metechi garlic bulbs carefully, selecting the largest and healthiest cloves for planting.
- Planting: Plant the cloves about 2 to 4 inches deep, with the pointed end facing up. Space each clove about 6 to 8 inches apart in rows that are 12 to 18 inches apart.
- Watering: Water the soil lightly to settle it around the cloves. Make sure the soil stays moist but not waterlogged.
- Mulching: Apply a layer of mulch such as straw or leaves to protect the cloves from harsh winter temperatures.
- Vernalization: Metechi garlic requires a cold spell to produce larger bulbs. Make sure the planted area experiences cold winter temperatures for at least 4-6 weeks (ideally frozen ground, but near-frozen can work too).
- Watering: Once the ground thaws and the shoots begin to emerge, start regular watering to keep the soil moist.
- Fertilization: Apply a balanced slow-release fertilizer to the soil as the shoots grow, following the instructions on the specific package.
- Weeding: Keep the area free of weeds to ensure that the garlic plants don’t have to compete for nutrients and water.
- Monitor the Leaves: When about one-third to one-half of the leaves turn yellow, it’s a sign that the garlic is almost ready for harvest.
- Loosen the Soil: Use a fork to gently loosen the soil around the bulbs, taking care not to damage them.
- Harvest: Carefully lift the bulbs out of the ground. Keep the leaves attached for curing.
- Curing and Storing: Hang the harvested garlic in a well-ventilated, shady spot for about 2-4 weeks to cure. Once cured, you can cut off the leaves and store the bulbs in a cool, dry place.
By following these steps, you can enjoy your homegrown Metechi garlic, well known for its robust flavor and long-lasting heat.
Using Metechi garlic in cooking
Metechi garlic is known for its strong, robust flavor and a heat that can be downright fiery when consumed raw. Its unique taste characteristics make it an excellent choice for a variety of culinary applications, particularly if you’re looking to add a punch of intense garlic flavor to your dishes. Here are some of the best ways to use Metechi garlic in cooking:
Metechi’s strong flavor mellows out into a rich, garlicky essence when roasted. Use it as a base for sauces or to spread on crusty bread. Roasted Metechi garlic can also be blended into mashed potatoes for a deliciously intense side dish.
Stir-fries and sautéed dishes
Metechi garlic is perfect for stir-fries and sautées, where its robust flavor can stand up to other strong ingredients like ginger, onions, and soy sauce. Given its heat, you might want to start with a small amount and adjust to your taste preference.
Spicy garlic oil
Use Metechi garlic to infuse olive oil with a spicy kick. This oil can be used as a base for salad dressings, drizzled over pizza, or used as a dip for bread.
Marinades and meat rubs
The strong flavor of Metechi garlic can impart deep flavors to meats, particularly beef, lamb, and chicken. Make a marinade with olive oil, lemon juice, herbs, and finely chopped Metechi garlic. Allow the meat to marinate for at least a few hours before grilling or roasting.
Given its strong flavor, Metechi is an excellent choice for pickling. Its flavors will permeate the pickling liquid, creating a zesty and flavorful condiment that pairs well with charcuterie boards or can be used as a garnish in cocktails like Bloody Marys.
Soups and stews
Metechi garlic’s robust flavor can significantly elevate the taste of soups and stews. Because of its strong flavor, it’s best used in recipes that have a rich, hearty base so that the garlic doesn’t overwhelm the other ingredients.
Spicy garlic dip
Mince Metechi garlic and blend it with yogurt, a bit of lemon juice, salt, and herbs to create a spicy dip perfect for vegetables, chips, or pita bread.
Because of its intensity, Metechi garlic might not be the best choice for dishes that require a subtle garlic flavor. However, if you want to make a statement with your culinary creations, Metechi is an excellent choice.
Nutritional benefits of spicy garlic
When it comes to nutritional benefits, spicy hardneck garlic varieties like Metechi are a powerhouse of nutrients and bioactive compounds. One of the most prominent compounds is allicin, which has antimicrobial properties and may boost the immune system. Allicin also supports cardiovascular health by helping to regulate cholesterol levels and improving blood circulation.
Furthermore, the spiciness in Metechi, as in other hot foods, is often linked to capsaicin-like compounds that can speed up metabolism and promote fat loss. Hardneck garlic varieties are also rich in antioxidants, vitamins like Vitamin C and B6, and essential minerals such as selenium and manganese, contributing to overall health and wellness.