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UK: Black garlic gaining popularity

Mark and Wendy Botwright were sheep farmers at Hazel End Farm, Hazelbury Bryan for ten years until foot and mouth took its toll. 17 years ago Wendy gave Mark some garlic bulbs to grow in the family garden, and as the bulbs grew and flourished, so did a new idea.

The couple is now the UK’s largest producer of garlic and grow some 700,000 bulbs of garlic on their Bridport farm, where conditions are ideal for garlic growing, the elevated fields keep the plants exposed to wind and therefore disease free; the soil is sandy and free draining. The Botwrights now have 13 acres of garlic growing, and dry and prepare the garlic in polytunnels. The farm grows a number of garlic varieties with a range of strength, including Elephant, Morado, Iberian and Violet Spring, along with garlic scapes (the flower stem) available from May. Much of the garlic goes to restaurants, wholesalers, farm shops and delicatessens throughout the UK.

Black garlic is enjoying a rise in popularity in gastronomic circles and the alternative medicine field. British Black Garlic is produced by using a traditional technique, which originates from South East Asia. “It has an extraordinary flavour with hints of aged balsamic, black cardamom, leather, smoke, tamarind and liquorice with the texture of dried apricots,” said Wendy.

The cloves are a soft, dark brown, almost black in colour. The product was awarded two gold stars in the Great Taste Awards 2014. Black Garlic does not have the strong odour of white garlic. It can be consumed in large quantities without any negative side effects like “garlic breath”.

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