Ail fumé d'Arleux (Arleux smoked garlic)

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Ail fumé d’Arleux

IGP ‘Ail fumé d’Arleux’ is a garlic that keeps for a considerable period of time owing to a traditional method and human know-how involving braiding the garlic and smoking it using local peat and/or lignite and/or short straw and/or sawdust. ‘Ail fumé d’Arleux’ is made from pink spring garlic (Allium sativum, a member of the lily family), of the Ail du Nord type. It is characterised by a long dormant period, medium-size bulbs and the absence of a floral stalk and it is adapted to the climate and closely connected with the history of the Nord-Pas de Calais region. The absence of a floral stalk enables the garlic to be plaited into the typical braids, as the foliage is supple enough to allow this. The varieties used are Ail du Nord, Gayant and Arno. New varieties may be introduced, provided that they meet the abovementioned criteria.

When harvested, the bulb is of medium size (varying between 40 mm and 80 mm depending on the way it is presented) and white in colour, while the external tunic of the cloves is dark pink. ‘Ail fumé d’Arleux’ is traditionally presented in the form of a braid, with the number of heads ranging from 10 to 90 or even 120. It can also be presented as a braid with three heads. The braiding is based on a process where the garlic heads are dried with the foliage, either in the field or by forced ventilation in a shed. The garlic is braided by hand, just like hair is. After it has been braided the garlic is smoked in a smoke room for at least seven days. The colour of the garlic after smoking varies depending on the materials used. The shades range from a light reddish brown to dark brown. The smoked braids may be packaged in a net before marketing. ‘Ail fumé d’Arleux’ has the following characteristics: — a pleasant smoky aroma, — uniform colour over the surface of the braid, the intensity of which is validated according to a defined reference colour. All the steps in cultivation, braiding, smoking and packaging must take place in the defined geographical area.

The demarcated area is the area in the traditional region of Arleux where garlic is grown today, because the local climate and soil conditions and the presence of peatland make it particularly suitable. The geographical area comprises 62 municipalities: 35 in the département du Nord and 27 in the département du Pas de Calais.

The specificity of the product derives from specific expertise: the smoking, and on the distinctive quality conferred by the smoking and the presentation in the form of braids and, finally, on a longstanding reputation that lives on to this day. Traditional smoking is carried out by burning a mixture of peat, sawdust and short straw. Nowadays lignite is added to this mixture, as peat can no longer be used sustainably and these two substances have the same combustion properties. Garlic cultivation developed in the heart of the Arleux region because of the presence of peat and the method of smoking. Arleux is a region where garlic is smoked in the traditional way. The forest in Nord-Pas de Calais is mainly composed of non-coniferous species (93 %), in particular oak, beech and ash. Wood from these species is particularly suitable for smoking garlic. The producers of ‘Ail fumé d’Arleux’ have thus, through the practice of braiding the garlic and through a specific smoking method (originally using peat and more recently with one or several other types of fuel), been able to build up a solid reputation for their product, as still attested today by the success of the Garlic Fair.

Reference: The European Commission