The practical advantage of the year’s new garlic is obvious: it doesn’t need to be peeled. (Although, according to this video, that may not be such big deal anyway.) Dissected, you can see the small cloves forming in the bulbs, and what will dry to become skin is now firm and succulent vegetable.
The sensory advantage of the year’s new garlic is a milder, grassier flavour to the first stalks and bulbs. It seems to perfectly complement the other new produce like asparagus and peas in a quick pasta dish. Or in a dressing for a salad of fresh greens.
The metaphysical advantage of the year’s new garlic is that it is a sure sign that we have crossed the Rubicon into the produce season. In March, the garlic is old, likely imported and reminds us of how long the winter has been. When the first garlic arrives at farmers’ markets and boutique grocers, we know we in or close to summer and the calvacade of first fruits and vegetables.
Next will come scapes.