Trader Joe’s One Clove Per Head Garlic

January 23, 2008 | Chuck
Trader Joe's One Clove Per Head Garlic

We love garlic and use it in just about every savory dish we make. We also cook in mass quantities and I always dread peeling the garlic. I hate it when my fingers get sticky from the garlic juice and the skins stick to my finger. It's not a difficult task. It's just mundane.

We recently discovered Trader Joe's The Emperor's New Cloves — one clove per head garlic. It's super easy to peel and doesn't have a sticky skin. I'm guesstimating one clove of this garlic is about five to six normal cloves of garlic. It's sold in a little wicker basket and contains six heads of garlic for $1.69.

As far as taste, it's a little milder than white-bulb American garlic. And it's perfect for roasting. It's so much easier and better than roasting normal heads of garlic. You don't have to deal with all the skin, squeezing and mess. The roasted one clove per head garlic is just one big lump of sweet, mellow garlic!

To roast the garlic, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap it in aluminum foil, place the heads in a muffin pan, and bake at 375°F for 40-45 minutes, or until the cloves are soft.

I'll never go back to roasting normal heads of garlic again. Trader Joe's The Emperor's New Cloves completely rock!

Roasted Garlic

Update Jan 25th, 2008: I contacted Trader Joe's and asked them what the garlic varietal is. They didn't answer my question, but I did get this response...


We appreciate your feedback and inquiry. Here is some direct information from our supplier about this special garlic.

In every harvest season, amongst thousands and thousands of garlic bulbs grown, very few garlic bulbs are produced with only one clove by mother nature and no one knows why and how!

Since one needs to plant one clove to get a garlic bulb, there is no logical and economical justification to plant one clove and still get one clove back after 9 months. That is why there is not even the possibility of attempting to intentionally grow this type of garlic.

Therefore, due to its scarcity, it was always gifted to and consumed by the kings and emperor's of different dynasties through out the Chinese history. To the best of our knowledge, there is no difference in taste with other garlic types with many cloves (the usual multi-clove garlic).

Amy Trader Joe's
Customer Relations

After a little research, we discovered that single clove garlic is often referred to as garlic rounds and even garlic onions. Via Gourmet Garlic Gardens...

"...garlic rounds. As garlic goes through the development underground from a clove to a fully cloved bulb, it first swells into a large round undivided ball with a lot of wrappers that are almost fused together. As it grows, it begins to divide and sub-divide into as many cloves as it can before the heat causes it to lose its leaves. If the temperature increases before the garlic has time to divide, then the result is a large undivided round. Every time we harvest we find some of them. If replanted as is in the fall, they will form large fully divided bulbs the following spring. These rounds have the same taste and other properties as the clove they came from. Mild tasting garlics yield mild tasting rounds and strong garlics result in strong tasting rounds. For spring planting, rounds are your best bet to produce a good size bulb by the time early summer heat forces maturity."

If you are really interested in single clove garlic, check out this interesting discussion.

Update Jan 30th, 2008: I visited my local Trader Joe's this morning and sadly they're no longer stocking The Emperor's New Cloves garlic. The garlic is grown in China and after talking to several employees, they told me that Trader Joe's is no longer carrying products grown in China, due to customer concerns.

I asked them if they would stock the single clove garlic again if they found a non-Chinese supplier. And their answer was most likely. I'm a little bummed out because I love the product. I'm going to contact Trader Joe's and ask them to find another supplier ASAP. If you also like the single clove garlic, send Trader Joe's a request to bring it back.

[tags]trader joe's, garlic, clove, roasted[/tags]

35 Comments on “Trader Joe’s One Clove Per Head Garlic”

  1. Donald said:

    Now this looks like an excellent shortcut; if a shortcut at all. We just got a TJ and I have had issues with the crowds, so I got kind of turned off from going there. I initially went to get the $2 buck Chuck, but now I have another reason to check them out.

    I too roast a lot of garlic and the squeezing is a bit mundane. I actually started using a cast iron skillet and a paper towel to smash an entire head all at once. To be honest, I sometimes just spoon some garlic from a jar if I don’t feel up to the task of smashing, peeling, and mincing.

    Thanks for the tip!

  2. Lydia said:

    Thanks for the heads up (ha ha ha). I’ll look for this on my next TJ’s run.

  3. Christiane said:

    I started just smashing garlic with the flat of my kitchen knife, then cutting off the bottom part, and that seems to make peeling a little bit easier.
    I will have to look for this next time I go to TJ’s though. I love roasted garlic and try to keep it on hand at all times.

  4. Evelin said:

    I just roasted garlic a few days ago. So delicious, but it’s hard to get the little cloves out afterwards! I just can’t believe these thing really exist!:)

  5. Judy said:

    Thank you for the tip, Chuck. I have seen these at TJ’s and was not sure what use they would be. Now I know. On a related subject, I have made your braised pork with tofu recipe twice, the first time as written and the second time substituting ground turkey instead of pork. Both ways are delicious. I can see how using this type of garlic would be a timesaver in doing the prep work for that dish.

  6. Jennie said:

    First off, lovely pictures! Secondly, I’m wondering if it’s hard to find these for planting (of course you could just plant what you buy from TJs but that’d be expensive)… I’d love to grow these big heads on our farm and sell them at the farmers market – what a hit they’d be! Thanks for bringing them to my attention! :)

  7. Kaykat said:

    Hmm … I’m a garlic freak – enough that I don’t care if my hands smell all night after an hour of peeling :) But this sounds like a fabulous alternative – and these cloves would probably make for excellent topping for crostini.

  8. JEP said:

    I would love to prepare garlic that look as tasty as yours!

  9. Chuck said:

    Donald, the crowds at TJ’s can be a real pain in the ass. My local TJ’s in San Francisco (Masonic) gets absolutely crazy with 20-30 cars queuing up to get into the small parking lot. I found the best time to go is early in the morning right after they open up.

    Lydia, funny… no problem. It’s definitely worth it to head over to TJ’s.

    Christiane, that’s my normal technique too and it works fine. I just hate prepping and washing in general. Have you ever tried shaking the garlic between two metal bowls technique? It works well if you don’t want to smash the clove. There’s some bruising but the cloves are left whole.

    Evelin, they do exist and they are awesome!

    Judy, I’m really glad you liked the braised pork and tofu recipe. It’s one of my favorite Chinese dishes. But, I can’t take any credit for the recipe, since it’s a Hungry Bear creation.

    Jennie, I think it would be a huge hit! I have never seen this type of garlic locally grown. The one from TJ’s are imported from China. I sent TJ’s an email asking them what garlic varietal they are. I’ll let you know if I they respond.

    Kaykat, an hour of peeling? You truly are a garlic freak!

    JEP, thanks for the complement.

  10. steph said:

    I go to the TJs in Santa Monica and they sold these for a few months around November. I recently went looking for more and the stocker guy told me they didn’t sell well so they were not ordering them anymore :(

  11. Michelle said:

    Wow! I can’t wait to get my hands on a basket for myself!

  12. Cindy said:

    It looks so good,
    I think even vampire will fall in love with your garlic.

  13. jk said:

    They’re Elephant Garlic, you can get them at most farmer’s markets and even my local Safeway in a pinch. They are *much* milder…

  14. Chuck said:

    Steph, oh no. I’ll have to make a run to my local TJ’s, if it ever stops raining in San Francisco, and get the scoop.

    Cindy, thanks!

    JK, the TJ’s garlic is not similar to the elephant garlic that I see at the supermarket, which has multiple cloves per head. However, I did find this “single-bulb form of elephant garlic” on Wikipedia that looks similar.

  15. Judy said:

    Hi Chuck. I just tried the TJ’s in South San Francisco and they did not have any. Dang! I will keep my eyes open on future trips. I hope they get more in stock.

  16. Ingar said:

    I never realized that was just a regular kind of garlic grown under different temperatures. You live to learn.
    I am a bit surprised that this variety of garlic is news to you. In Norway they suddenly started arriving in mass quantities a few years back, and now you can get them everywhere vegetables are sold. They are marketed as “Chinese garlic”, and truly has made cooking easier for me.
    I guess this in one of the rare instances where Scandinavia is actually a bit ahead of the States. Presumably we’ll get a Space Shuttle anytime soon now….

  17. Jeff said:

    Geneticaly modify much?

  18. Katie said:

    Chuck – that is very cool! I never knew garlic did that! I will certainly be crossing my fingers in hopes of finding one of these garlic supergiants in my garden in the summer. (PS – Found your blog via StumbledUpon)

    Katie at GardenPunks

  19. VB said:

    My ex-bf’s brother-in-law deals with these sort of garlic and they export them all over, namely, Spain, US and some parts of Europe. They are dirt cheap here in HK and yes, not only are they milder in taste, they also “last longer” as in, unlike regular garlic, they do not hv shoots sprouting out of each bulb as quickly.

  20. onbike said:

    In Greece these garlics are rare enough and are called “monoskorda” (single garlics). Due to their rarity they are considered to bring good luck and are sold as a sort of talisman, to be carried with you, or hanged on a door, etc. It is considered very good luck to find one, just as double-yolk eggs!

  21. Chuck said:

    I’m loving all the info and stories that everyone is sharing. I’m learning more and more about single clove garlic every day.

  22. Scott said:

    A quick trick for those having issues with getting the roasted garlic out – cut the top off of the head of garlic, exposing the cloves. Then, when roasted and cooled, you can just squeeze the entire head and the roasted garlic just oozes out.

  23. Tim said:

    Mmmmmmm……garlic. The best evidence I’ve come across for the existence of a god…….. Roasted garlic is a pain to get out of the skin. The solution I have found is to smash/peel raw garlic (which is much easier) and then “poach” the peeled cloves in low temp olive oil (go ahead and use the cheap stuff on med/low heat, you want to avoid the sizzle). The garlic has the same mellow, roasted flavor, and the bonus is that you get a batch of awesome garlic oil to toss over your pasta.

  24. Kelly said:

    >If the temperature increases before the garlic has time to divide, then the result is a large undivided round.

    Grow your own. Grow it in a hot house and make sure you watch carefully. You can artificially increase the temperature on the containers to stop it from dividing.

  25. Aiden's mom said:

    Isn’t this just elephant garlic?

  26. Devon said:

    I’ve grown garlic from the bulbils that form at the tops of the garlic just to increase my planting stock. When these bulbils are planted they form one single clove that looks like the picture, although mine were quite small, averaging about the size of a ping pong ball.
    Garlic is traditionally planted in the fall and I’ve heard that if it is planted in the spring you run the risk of getting a head of garlic that does not form cloves and so I suppose it could turn out like the one in the picture.
    Definitely worth looking into and it might be easier than it sounds to grow them like that.
    Also, for those not liking to peel garlic, hardneck varieties can have large individual cloves with skins that are much easier to peel. They are large heads and some might only have four big cloves in it.

  27. Elise said:

    I loved the Emperors New Cloves garlic.

    It was a miracle food!

    THanks for the link to TJ.

    I asked them to find another source or commission someone to grow it for them.

    Maybe if enough of us do that…?

  28. Gao Lifeng said:

    The famous Single Clove Garlic (also called Solo Garlic, or Pearl Garlic) is produced in the high mountain area of Yunnan Province of China. It is grown with organic fertilizers without chemical pollution. The sizes are 3cm up or 3.5cm up. The harvest time is February to March every year. It is purple and white in color. It has good-looking appearance, unique flavour and prophylactic for bird flue. It has a strong fragrant taste compared with multi clove regular garlic. It also has a high nutrition content. Its price is higher than regular multi-clove garlic but those people who buy it simply love it. It is delicious! For details pictures and information, you may wish to visit and discuss with me.

  29. axux said:

    i never knew such garlic rounds exist…wonder if we have those here

  30. Chen Liang said:

    I really enjoy the Single Clove Garlic,is produced in the high mountain area of Yunnan Province, it is grown with organic fertilizers without chemical pollution.
    Specifications & Details:
    1) Size: 2.5-3.0cm, 3.0 – 3.5cm, 3.5 – 4.0cm, 4.0 – 4.5cm, 4.5 – 5.0cm;
    2) Transporting and storing temperature: -3° – 0°C;
    3) Supply period: March to June (fresh); July to February (cold storage);
    4) Plump shaped bulbs offering full flavored cloves that have a purplish hue
    5) Shelf life is long and can be stored for up to 9 months under proper conditions;
    6) Can produce wonderful flavors and have the beneficial effect of reducing bacteria, keeping the heart in good condition and immunity;
    7)Packing :
    100g/bag, 150g/bag, 200g/bag, 250g/bag, 500g/bag, 1kg/bag,

    10kg/mesh bag,20kg/mesh bag,

    5kg/ctn, 10kg/ctn etc

    For more details pictures and information, please feel free to visit or contact with me.

  31. MowKat said:

    Really enjoyed your website. I recently found out how to peel many cloves of garlic faster than you’d believe. Get 2 medium bowls that are the same size. ( I have some lightweight stainless steel with rings on them that are not very large that I use. ) Break apart a bulb, or BULBS if you need lots, and place into one of the bowls. Put the other bown on top of the bowl with the garlic, forming a “ball” shape. NOW, hold the two bowls together tightly and SHAKE the cloves as hard and fast as you can. It will take 5 to 10 seconds, depending how hard you shake, the amount of room you have in the bowl to bang the cloves against. The first time I did it I stopped after 3 seconds and SOME of the cloves were naked. I shook it again, low and behold, they were ALL sitting in their peels! I would like to tell you where I learned this but I CAN’T remember. My apologies to that source! Happy peeling.

  32. bridie said:

    could someone tell me if the one bulb garlic that comes from china is genetically modified please to settle an argument .

  33. cathy said:

    Not genetically modified. If the growing season is too short (ie started in spring rather than fall), you will often get a round (or the British seem to call them singletons) Growing from small inner cloves or from bubils (little bulbs produced on the top of scapes) can also produce the rounds. Most garlic growers (commercial) do not want anything but large bulbs. Foodies have made many new markets for stuff that many farmers just kept for themselves. F’rinstance, now having grown potatoes for a few years, I realize when you harvest them, there are large (supermarket like) potatoes, small (new potato sized ones) and tiny ones. You used to never see the tiny ones commercially but now you sometimes see them at Costco or TJs as “teeny weeny potatoes” They are not genetically modified (or cut down from larger potatoes like “baby carrots”) but are just potatoes harvested before they got larger. Blue potatoes seem to have lots of tiny potatoes and russets rarely seem to produce the tiny ones. Formery once a Bay Area person and even a NYC person, I now live a long ways from a Costco or Trader Joes or even a Target so I just have to grow this gourmet crap myself.

  34. sasukisan said:

    where could I buy it?

  35. Terri said:

    We have some of these garlic rounds and some are as big as a softball. Can you grow the little bulbs growing on the roots? I would like to keep growning these but don’t know how to get them started again. Thanks for any info.

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