Home Eating & DrinkingFood & RecipesStyle & Ingredients Sulmona Red Garlic – Probably the Best Garlic in the World

Sulmona Red Garlic – Probably the Best Garlic in the World

by Sam Dunham
Sulmona Red Garlic

() is barely known outside the world of gourmets, chefs and those who have been on holiday to Italy. However, when trying to recreate a little bit of authentic cooking this is often the forgotten ingredient, and to be frank once you savour the difference between this ’s cloves and all others you will be hooked enough to grow it yourself and want it every day!

Red Sulmona is renowned for its delicate taste without any hint of bitterness, the latter being greeted with joy for anyone who has unsuccessfully tried to make Bruschetta or a simple Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino and ended up with a horrible acidic mess.  The secret to these simple key Italian dishes lie in its principal ingredient – ‘great garlic’ and with the liberal use of the sweet Red Garlic of Sulmona they taste exactly as they should.

From the outside the white bulbs look like any others; it’s only when you whip off their thin outer skins that you see their reddish purple waist jackets.  This type of garlic is a must for those who believe in natural antibiotics to help fight off aliments; the garlic has some of the highest Allistatin concentrates found in the garlic & onion family – (this is the natural antibiotic found in this vegetable family and which thankfully hasn’t become resistant to drugs!)  A recommended holistic flu & cold remedy from the Campo di Fano area where this bulb is cultivated in Abruzzo is  to simmer a couple of glasses of water with 5 slices of lemon, 1 bay leaf and 2 cloves of unpeeled Red Sulmona garlic and drinking this before bedtime as soon as you start to feel peaky.

Unlike run-of-the-mill GM supermarket garlic where you seem to need to double the amount of garlic needed within any to find any sort of the flavour that so many cook books describe, these chunky headed bulbs pack a fine pungent punch and if it says use 1 clove that is all you will need in trying to recapture the essence of so many perfectly Italian simple lunches on a hot summer’s day.

Abruzzo has seen the best of times and worst of times over the last few centuries something that has taught its population not to let anything go to waste and this includes ‘garlic shoots’ which are quite unique to this type of garlic and called Zolla.  Picked one month before harvest these young shoots are preserved in Olive Oil and perfect used in omelettes and chopped with a little rosemary and prosciutto to make a wonderful stuffing for chicken or stuffed lamb.

The Sulmona Red Garlic Consortium, (the Consorzio Produttori Aglio Rosso) offers   Zolla, Garlic Cream and braids of bulbs online and is worth a visit for anyone considering a different kind of stuffing ingredient for Thanksgiving or .

Seeds of ItalyFor those eager to grow this beautiful self-propagating garlic, the time for planting is ready for harvesting in July.  The bulbs are hardy and easy to grow, whether it’s in pots for those without gardens or a vegetable patch they will do well and act as a natural repellent against aphids.  We recommend the Italian Seed Specialists ‘Seeds of Italy’, who specialise in supplying seeds from Italian fruit and vegetable regional specialities – you can buy Red Sulmona Garlic online for £2.85 plus shipping.

Useful English/Italian Translation Tip

Red Sulmona Garlic – Aglio Rosso di Sulmona

Further Reading

Consorzio Produttori Aglio Rosso
Bulbs are for shipping within the EU only, Zolla & Garlic Cream can be shipped throughout the world

Seeds of Italy, Franchi Seeds, Est. 1788 Official Website





Daniela Tarquini 05/09/2017 - 00:14

Anyone know where for Melbourne Australia?

Life in Abruzzo 05/09/2017 - 09:00

Daniela Tarquini Will do

Mara Aed 04/09/2017 - 23:55

I buy my seeds from “seeds from Italy” they do have garlic from Italy…… I buy mine when i go back to Abruzzi. Going in October

Maria Marchetti 04/09/2017 - 23:12

Domenica Marchetti are you familiar with this garlic?

Domenica Marchetti 05/09/2017 - 12:43

Yes; you’ll see a reference to it in the recipe for pickled garlic scapes on p. 31 of Preserving Italy.

Clare A. Stortini 04/09/2017 - 22:06
Life in Abruzzo 05/09/2017 - 08:28

They look close but I can’t see any Sulmona Red Garlic, did you try one that was similar?

Clare A. Stortini 05/09/2017 - 11:28

Life in Abruzzo Italian mountain red. It’s a soft neck garlic similar to what my family grew which they called Italian wild garlic. https://singerfarmnaturals.myshopify.com/search?type=product&q=Italian&submit=

Life in Abruzzo 05/09/2017 - 11:39

That may be the closest in the US people can get if they can’t grow it themselves

Carmela Rinvenuto 04/09/2017 - 19:43

Gregory Herbert Keen look at these garlic

James Van Zandt 04/09/2017 - 19:27

growitalian.com sells Sulmona Russo Aglio bulbs for planting, grows very well and produces great yield of garlic.

Life in Abruzzo 04/09/2017 - 19:33

I bought from their UK sister company

Sara Vasquenz DeVito 04/09/2017 - 18:34

Maybe Eataly??

Life in Abruzzo 04/09/2017 - 19:31

I did take a look but can’t see it listed on their website

Sue Firth 04/09/2017 - 17:51

Giuseppe Ursini, Fossecesia CH had a contact and had found a way of preserving the Red Garlic of Sulmona. He also has agents in the USA. Website ursini.com

Life in Abruzzo 04/09/2017 - 18:04

Cant see anything about the garlic on the website but but they do have some wonderful looking recipes! I’ll drop them an email

Sue Firth 04/09/2017 - 18:16

Life in Abruzzo it’s been some time since I dealt with Ursini, (a fantastic man and an amazing company – tell him I said that) but it was one of his key lines.

Patricia Zerega Petrilli 04/09/2017 - 17:19

There used to be a farm in Geneva, Illinois that grew the Italian red garlic. They had a website where you could order it online. If you google red garlic, Geneva Illinois, you may find the farm.

Life in Abruzzo 04/09/2017 - 17:32

I’ll have a look thanks Patrica!

Erica Antonio 04/09/2017 - 17:44

I don’t think he sells anymore

Life in Abruzzo 04/09/2017 - 17:49

Oh no that’s a shame, we’ll keep looking for this NY lady

Phil Petrilli 04/09/2017 - 18:12

Good but it wasn’t the same….we also have an old lady here in Montana who sells her purple garlic from central Europe….. also close but not the same…..the “terroire” (soil) is the difference….

Anne Colamosca 04/09/2017 - 16:41

That’s where my grandparents are fromSulmona!!!

Filomena Venditti Campomizzi 04/09/2017 - 22:46

If you haven’t visited, you must!!!

Anne Colamosca 04/09/2017 - 22:58

I did visit, but in the 1980s. Beautiful town. Beautiful region.

Mara Aed 05/09/2017 - 00:01

Tried the confetti and torrone? My parents are from Abruzzi, we have a vacation house there on the beach

Phil Petrilli 04/09/2017 - 16:20

I grow my own from Abruzzese cloves …..soil conditions are not exactly ideal and it makes a difference, not as sweet

Life in Abruzzo 04/09/2017 - 17:33

Ah, I tried too and had the same problem

Phil Petrilli 04/09/2017 - 18:08

Our soil is similar but not quite enough calcites content …..when in Sulmona I eat it like candy

Mara Aed 05/09/2017 - 00:00

Add the stuff the Italian add to the soild: ground coffee, wood ash, manure (we get ours from rabbits that eat organic food), crushed leaves, and lime…. the Italians figured out how to take care of the land but don’t tell anyone because they think everybody knows!!!! I came to the U.S. When I was younger and had no idea. I asked my mom and others: how do you keep your veggies and flowers so healthy, everybody’s answer: do you water them? ……. because they assume you already know the rest

Phil Petrilli 05/09/2017 - 00:08

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All about Abruzzo in a slow travel & food blog
All about Abruzzo in a slow travel & food blog