The wild ramp, AKA wild leek, botanical name Allium tricoccum, is a flowering perennial plant that grows in clusters. It is a member of the Allium family along with onions and leeks
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Ajo Rojo Garlic
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The size of a bulb of Ajo Rojo garlic is generally dependent on the climate, but the average bulb is about two inches in diameter. The outer skin of the Ajo Rojo bulb is often called “silky” for its look and feel. Aside from that, the bulb has a very typical garlic look on the outside; it’s the individual cloves that reveal the signature “Rojo” or red color. There are typically eight to twelve cloves per bulb. The cloves of the Ajo Rojo garlic have a pungent aroma with a sweet taste and a warm, spicy finish. The flavor improves over time, in storage.
Ajo Rojo garlic is available in the early summer and through the winter months.
Ajo Rojo garlic is a Creole variety of Allium sativum. Ajo is Spanish for garlic and Rojo means red. Ajo Rojo is considered a hardneck variety, yet it is genetically distinct from both hardneck and softneck varieties. Hardneck garlic has a woody, hard neck “scape” or flower stem growing in the center stem and grows well in colder climates, whereas softneck garlic grows best in warmer climates and has no flower stalk.
The first recorded use of garlic for health benefits dates back to 1500BC Egypt. The active ingredient is allicin, which is released when the garlic is crushed or chopped. Garlic has anti-inflammatory and anti-biotic properties and it naturally builds the immune system. In Ajo Rojo, the antioxidant properties are even higher due to the presence of anthocyanins, the phytochemicals that produce the red color in the cloves.
Add Ajo Rojo to a variety of dishes that call for garlic. Ajo Rojo garlic retains much of its flavor when cooked. Creole garlics are great for fresh eating; chop and add to salsas or salad dressings. To enhance Creole dishes, finely chop garlic to release its essential oils for a bit more heat. Add sliced garlic to pasta sauce or soups or top pizzas.
Creole garlic varieties are hardy and smaller than other varieties of garlic. They grow best in the warmer climates of the Southern US and in the southern parts of Europe. Ajo Rojo is among the rare Creole varieties of garlic native to Spain and Europe where it was cultivated for centuries and brought to the US by way of the Spanish conquistadors. These travelers came via the Caribbean and the Southern US, namely Louisiana, where the garlic picked up its “Creole” moniker.