In this article, let’s learn how about the various types of garlic, especially the difference between hardneck vs softneck garlic. How to grow them, and the difference in flavors.
Garlic sits on its throne as one of the kitchen’s most flavourful and aromatic vegetables, and used as an herb. Additionally, the versatility of this vegetable is out of this world!
The Middle East and Asia have used garlic to treat hypertension, liver disorders, TB (tuberculosis), bronchitis, colic, rheumatism, diabetes, dysentery, intestinal worms, and many other fevers throughout global history.
In the emerging era, an extraordinary culinary twist came in when the French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish introduced the distinctive tastes of garlic to the new exploratory world. It pairs beautifully with other herbs and spices like rosemary, parsley, and basil.
Garlic or Allium sativum belongs to the Allium genus. However, there isn’t only one type of garlic, as the Allium family is diverse.
When categorizing garlic, we come across two distinctive types: hard-neck garlic and soft-neck garlic. Keep reading as we explore these different types and varieties in depth.
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The hardneck (stiff-neck) garlic is scientifically referred to as Allium sativum ophioscorodon.
This type contains larger cloves and gives more intense flavors. Furthermore, they produce a woody central stalk along with a green shoot known as a scape.
In garlic, the scape refers to the flowering stalks that sprout from their bulbs. These scapes then grow to form bulbil with more tiny cloves like the parent bulb, and the process goes on.
Many cuisines worldwide use these scapes to enhance the complexity of their dishes. However, farmers mostly chop them off to keep the bulb growing itself. Which, to be honest, is a shame. If you grow your own garlic, I encourage you to try them.
Hard-neck garlic comes in five different varieties:
- Rocambole Garlic
It has the best flavor of a rich, full-bodied taste that serves every delicious cuisine. It has a red and pink exterior growing 8 to 12 cloves inside, and can last up to 6 months. The only drawback is that they cannot grow on wetlands, so you can only find them in dry areas.
- Porcelain Garlic
It is very similar to Rocambole garlic in taste and texture. This type of garlic has a white outer skin with individual cloves covered in red or brown skin. There are usually four to six cloves in one garlic. You might find this in many home gardens because of its adaptability to weather conditions, and it can last for up to 8 months.
- Stripe Garlic
This type has three subtypes of garlic that come with distinctive purple streaks.
|Purple Strile Garlic||They produce almost 8 to 12 cloves per garlic bulb and are heavily used for baking.|
|Marbled Stripe Garlic||The bulb has less but large cloves. When it comes to its production, make sure good care is taken as wet areas are worse within the bulbs, which can cause decay.|
|Glazed Purple Garlic||This strain is far more delicate because of its thin outer skin. Many families have kept this strain alive with the help of their heritage conservancies and specially trained family growers. These are very tender and not ideal for commercial growth as they require special care.|
Intermediate Garlic Varieties
Another extension of hard-neck garlic is the intermediate garlic varieties. There are three main types of weak bolting hard-necks. This variation can easily develop a scape in harsh conditions, yet it might grow soft-necks as well. Thus, they come between the hard-neck and soft-neck garlic types.
- Asiatic Garlic
This type is one of the fastest-growing types of garlic that matures and increases in size very quickly. They can grow multiple times a year.
This explains why they are super popular amongst gardeners. However, they don’t last very long, and flavor-wise, they have a strong garlicky taste with slight heat.
- Turban Garlic
Turban garlic grows quickly as well. They have large 5 to 8 cloves per bulb. They don’t last that long, and after maturing, their skin peels off.
- Creole Garlic
These have a sharp rose-colored skin covering the small bulb. They’re very adaptable to weather conditions and can easily survive droughts. Moreover, they are one of the most grown garlics globally due to their wonderful aroma and strong flavors.
The Soft-Neck Garlic
Soft-neck garlic is the most commonly consumed by the public, and you can easily find them at the supermarkets. They have a wild flavor, generally grow in warm zones, and require no mid-season pruning. While talking about their two varieties: artichoke and silver-skin.
- Artichoke Garlic
Artichoke garlic is similar to the artichoke vegetable. It has multiple overlapping layers and contains up to 20 garlic cloves. You know those tiny cloves you get that are hard to peel? That’s an artichoke garlic. It’s these overlapping cloves that give this garlic the appearance of an artichoke.
They are beautifully covered in white or off-white hard-to-peel outer layers. This protects them and increases their shelf life for almost eight months. If we further go into their division, then the top artichoke garlic varieties include Polish red, California late, California early, Applegate, Italian purple, red torch, among others.
The Silverskins are high-yielding and adaptable to changes in climate. They are a little smaller but a lot more flavorful than the artichoke garlic.
They can easily stay fresh for a year if kept in a dry place. The plant varieties include kettle river giant, polish white, chef’s Italian red.
Lump Eggplant Garlic
Lastly, there is a lot of confusion over lump eggplant garlic, and many argue that it is a member of the onion and a variant of leek. It looks like a large bulb with a few mellow garlic infused with sweet onion taste. There has been no distinction yet, so this variant stays under constant debate.
In Final Thoughts: Which Is the Best Type of Garlic?
There are two major factors to look for while growing garlic plants: the climate conditions and your taste buds.
Remember that soft-necks are perfect for warm climates. For example, if you want flavorful garlic, then Rocambole is your buddy. In contrast, hardnecks are ideal for colder climates. For instance, if you want an ample supply of garlic, then Porcelain lasts the longest.
Keep on growing and testing the different types of garlic. Then you will eventually find the strain that suits your weather conditions and taste buds perfectly. Good luck!