In the Istrian vegetable tradition, there are as many as three types or varieties of garlic that are considered Istrian: Istrian white garlic, Istrian purple garlic and Istrian red garlic.
White is actually a pale pink-orange color, purple is a light purple color, and red is a darker shade. The most accurate way to distinguish Istrian red garlic is that it has only eight large cherries and two small flat ones in the middle, while the other two types have a larger number of smaller and concentrically arranged cherries. It is important to note that Istrian white and Istrian purple garlic are not permanent, they dry naturally by Christmas, while Istrian red garlic, with smaller heads but significantly larger cherries, can last much longer.
Istrian red garlic from the outside does not look red, but the strong dark red color of its cherries can be clearly seen through the white outer shell.
It is planted in the fall or spring on previously plowed land, and every year on a different plot, to reduce the risk of its biggest enemy, the onion fly parasite. Healthy cherries from the last harvest are taken for planting, and about one ton of seed garlic is planted on one hectare, at intervals of 25 to 60 centimeters. After just a few days, the planted cherries begin to let the root veins into the ground, but the young shoot will not come to the surface until February. Then it should be protected against onion flies, downy mildew and other diseases. By mid-spring, a flower stalk will grow from a garlic sapling, which should be removed in mid-May to develop thicker heads.
These stalks, which in some Istrian places are called piski or paski, are an excellent spring by-product of garlic, they can be prepared on a frittata, even pickled.
In order to reach the moment of picking two thirds of the aboveground leaves of the garlic stalk should be dry and one third still green. Then the weather forecast should be followed: garlic should be picked before the rain falls in late June. It is very important to turn the garlic on time because if it is picked too early, the still green heads will shrink, if the harvest is delayed, the heads will open.