A rich, musky but mellow Rocambole hardneck Garlic.
Also called Italian Easy Peel.
Rocamboles grow better in cold winter gardens.
Harvests in early summer - stores through fall into winter.
Italian Purple is rare because it is an Italian rocambole that was brought to the USA from Italy around a hundred years ago and has been grown all over Northern states ever since. It is thought to have come from northern Italy since it is a rocambole that probably won't grow well in southern Italy. Most other Italian garlics are artichokes and a few silverskins. When is the last time you remember an Italian rocambole?
Italian Purple is a generally good sized and can be a rather large garlic. Being a Rocambole garlic, its flavor is rich and strong, but not overly hot and spicy and sticks around for a while. A very enriching taste experience but not one to burn your tongue (at least not until the garlic is a little too mature). From a grower's perspective, it grows well in cold winter areas and usually grows healthy surprisingly uniform sized bulbs. It has thick bulb wrappers for a rocambole and they have a lot of purple and brown layered across a white background - very attractive.
Italian Purple usually has anywhere from 8 or 9 easy to peel cloves that are of good size, with no smaller inner cloves. The outer bulb wrappers are thin and flake off easily so it is not a very good storer, but no Rocambole is. For those up north who want to grow their own garlic, it is said to grow well in wet conditions. It only takes a year or two to grow all you can eat. It harvests in mid-season along with most of the other Rocamboles. Bulbs are usually over 2 1/2 inches in diameter and are of good size are grown primarily for their rich flavor and good growing characteristics.
Garlic used for seed is generally 2" or greater, while eating garlic can be any size.