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Smoked garlic of Arleux

France

Smoked garlic of Arleux France

History

For centuries garlic has been cultivated in several regions including the north of France. In this area where the moisture is higher than anywhere else in the country, people couldn’t keep the garlic in good shape for long. But in the middle of the 16th century, the citizens of Arleux, a small village occupied by Spanish troops at war with king Louis XIV at time, had the idea to smoke it as the fish and pork meat they already smoked. By smoking the garlic, it could dry and get covered by a protective skin making it possible to keep it all year round.

The garlic is planted in February. The growers use a special variety of pink garlic, which is rather small and well adapted to the northern fields. Its skin is thin enough to take the smoke.
Right after the crop in the end of July; the garlic is laid directly in the fields for drying when the weather is good in summer. Another part of the garlic is taken away and hanged in warehouses for a short indoor drying.

After a couple of days the garlic is ready for grading and smoking.

First of all the garlic heads are graded according size and shape. Big size bulbs will give short braids, small size bulbs will give braids up to 90 pieces and 30 inches. Bulbs are tied-up by 3 pieces.

After the grading starts the braiding : each group of 3 is braided with the others by hand so they can be hanged in the smoke house.

Step by step the smoke house is filled with white braids.

When the house is full, the worker bring the ingredients for the smoking.

Peat is taken from the network of rivers, lakes and canals that surround the town. The semi-liquid peat is compressed into brick-shaped moulds during a week for drying. The peat brings the heat while burning. This dries the garlic.

Then they add short straw and corn skins as well as natural wood sawdust which will smoke and colour the garlic.

Then starts the smoking process itself. During 8 days, at a temperature of 40°C ( 104 °F ). The heat will dry the garlic while the short straw and sawdust will bring the taste and colour to the garlic bulbs. Straw and sawdust are added every 8 hours all along the process.

After smoking the garlic is ready for selling, eventually after decoration with dried flowers.

In Arleux the garlic is sold by the growers themselves in small stores.

Sensorial attributes

Smoking the garlic gives it a very special flavour, the one of a fireplace, unique and unknown anywhere else in the world. With its golden color, the smoked garlic makes it unmissable.

The product in Art & Culture

Each year from 1962, the village of Arleux (2600 inhabitants only ) is in crazy effervescence when up to 80 000 people attend the smoked garlic festival the 1st Sunday of September. A unique event where all should go at least once to taste the tradition of the smoked garlic.

Quality label

Due to its very special production process and Histoory, the smoked garlic has obtained a European protection (PGI – Protected Geographical Indication).

Furthermore, our growers are certified GIQF (Gestion Intégrale de la Qualité de la Filière) , being translated as ICQM (Integral Chain Quality Control)

Recipes

The smoked garlic can be eaten raw or cooked.

But something as simple as the garlic bread can awake you to all its flavors.

One baguette
One clove of garlic
Salted butter

Cut the baguette in its length.
Crush the garlic with the butter and spread it inside the baguetter
Close the bread and put it in a preheated oven at 180 ° C, wrapped in aluminum foil, for about 10 minutes.

Serve hot and enjoy the flavors with a red wine.