Inchelium garlic is an heirloom “softneck” or “artichoke” type garlic that is claimed to be the oldest strain of garlic grown in North America. It was found on the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington State and it is believed to have been grown by San Poil Indians before the arrival of Europeans in the 1700s. The word “Inchelium” is a San Poil word meaning the joining of a big water with a small water. It is also the name of a small Indian town on the reservation.
Inchelium is a robust plant and seems well adapted tot he Pacific Northwest climate. It produces a large bulb of about 2-3 inches in diameter. The bulb’s outer layers often have purple streaking that slowly fade with curing. The flavor is robust with a lingering spice on the palate.
Inchelium won the Rodale garlic taste off in 1990. Charges that San Poil Indians made up most of the judging panel have never been proven.
Recently Inchelium garlic was placed on the “Ark of Taste” of the Slow Food Foundation and it is classified as an “endangered” plant variety. It is the only American garlic to have made it onto Slow Food’s Ark.
Inchelium garlic is not grown commercially to any extent worth noting. It has however become increasingly popular amongst garlic collectors and home gardeners in the West and Pacific Northwest. It commands a premium price when it can be found. Ron Eglund charges $14 a pound for Inchelium garlic and he sells out. Luckily my business acumen has enabled me to give away all that I grow excepting a few head for next year’s crop.
These Inchelium garlic were grown organically in my garden .