harder and harder to find good fresh garlic (and shallots)
Anyone else notice that garlic and shallots in the supermarket are getting nastier every year? At least here in NYC, I have a difficult time finding heads of garlic that aren't moldy, rotten, blemishes, sprouting, etc. Shallots are even worse.
I can still usually find decent garlic at the farmer's market, but I remember when I started cooking about dozen years ago, you could count on getting unblemished garlic at the supermarket. What's going on?
(The pre-peeled garlic in the plastic tubs usually looks fine, but I don't like the idea of using all that plastic just to save a few seconds of work.)
I live 45 minutes from the Garlic capitol (Gilroy) and I often see not so great garlic. I get spoiled with CSA garlic, and then get annoyed to find sprouting garlic at the grocery stores, not to mention the stale stuff they had a one grocery store. I think the grocery stores are just storing it longer - probably supply and demand. Nicer produce dept. seem to be better.
Also, as an aside, a decent amount of fresh (dried bulb) garlic now is imported from China (for those of you who are avoiding their products).
I couldn't agree with you more, schubert.
I'm finding this generally about produce, no matter which of the supermarkets I go to in the area. I do most of my grocery shopping now at a little independent family market, and it's better there. But the selection of fruits and veggies is much narrower, and can be catch-as-catch-can, since they won't buy from their suppliers what doesn't look good.
Nice lemons are getting harder to find, too, I've found over the last couple of years. But garlic and shallots--most definitely. I have the same frustrations, especially with shallots. And what I get, hardly seems to keep at all, even in a keeper in a cool, dark spot.
If this was three weeks ago jfood would have agreed but in the last few weeks the shallots and garlic and onions have t aken a remarkable turn for the better. In fact jfood thought it may be short lived and bought 10 pounds of onions to caramelize and keep in the fridge. Likewise he roasted a few heads of garlic last weekend and has made some great gravies over the holiday week. And he has not seen such lush shallots in a while. risotto on the menu for this week to take advantage of them.
Hope others begin to see waht jfood has seen in FFD county CT.
Because we see them in stores year-round, we don't think of onions as seasonal products, but they really do have a season, and we're in it right now. Onions at other times of year have been in storage, have been grown under marginal conditions, or have been imported, so of course they get moldy or sprout more quickly. Same for garlic.
I think another factor in garlic is that a few years back they had some kind of mold or blight problems in Gilroy, which allowed imported garlic from China (cheap, but poor quality, at least after shipping) to take over the market -- apparently even Christopher Ranch is importing garlic, then processing it under its label -- look carefully for the country of origin!
I agree that I have been trouble finding decent garlic outside a farmer's market for several years now.
BTW, I love Meyer lemons, but they're not interchangeable with regular lemons for many uses, as they're a lot less acid and won't provide the necessary acid balance in some dishes.