Gourmet Garlic Types
Every type of Garlic cultivar is unique in flavor, secondary taste and aftertaste. I have broken down the main sub-categories, and named just a few of the hundreds of cultivars or strains available in the United States. There is no need to buy garlic from China or countries overseas. We have the best of the best right here in the U.S. From the Northern States growers to the Southern States growers, we have Garlic available that will grow literally anywhere. You just have to do your research and find types of Garlic that will grow in your part of the country, and that appeal to your taste.
Here at Lilli Bean Green, we are a Northern Ohio Grower, but some of our cultivars such as Inchelium Red will also grow in warmer winters.
Hardnecks ( Allium sativum ssp. ophioscorodon) have a woody stem that goes thru the center of the head. The cloves grow around this in one layer. The cloves are generally larger than soft neck garlic. Some varieties have very large cloves.
Hardneck Garlics are broken down into eight different types. They are Rocambole, Purple stripe, Marble Purple Stripe, Glazed Purple Stripe, Porcelain, Asiatic, Turban, and Creole. Each type is then broken down further into different cultivars. For instance, Amish, German Giant, German Red, Spanish Roja, and Ukraine Red are popular Rocambole Garlics, just to name a few.
The popular Purple Stripe group which includes Purple Stripe, Marble Purple Stripe, and Glazed Purple Stripes types have many cultivars which include, Belarus, Bogatyr, Celeste, Chesnok Red, Metechi, Persian Star, Purple Glazer to name a few.
One can see why the Hardneck sub-species is so popular among Gourmet Garlic lovers. Each different cultivar has it's own distinct traits. Some are mild, some are hot, some have a deep garlic flavor, some have an earthy tone to them, some even have an inherent sweetness. I have different favorites depending on what type of cooking I am doing.
Hardneck garlic is easier to peel than soft neck garlic. The flavors are more complex and some are very spicy and have a lot of heat. Hardneck Garlics, generally store from 6-10 months depending on the variety .
Softneck garlics ( Allium sativum ssp. sativum) are classified into two categories, Silverskin and Artichoke. They generally grow well in warmer climates. Although there are varieties of Softneck garlic that do well in the colder areas, they are generally less tolerant to prolonged cold temperatures. They have a very flexible stem that braids well. Their cloves grow in layers with the largest cloves being on the outside of the bulb. They have many layers of wrappers over their cloves which gives them a longer storage capability. When stored properly some can still be usable at 11-12 months.
Their flavors tends to be milder than Hardneck Garlic, and not as diverse. The garlic you buy in the grocery store is a Softneck Garlic.
Elephant Garlic is a personal favorite of mine. Milder in taste, and much larger than other garlics, but with a wonderful storage life. Our Elephant Garlic has been known to store over a year under proper conditions.
If it looks like garlic, smells like garlic, and tastes like garlic, it must be garlic, right? Well, for years Elephant Garlic has been classified as a type of leek probably incorrectly. Just recently, actually April 29, 2020 a research paper was published showing Elephant Garlic to be closely related to garlic with just a few organic compounds in it, related to leeks. In fact Elephant Garlic just might be a species all to its own. Won't that be exciting?
Gas Chromatography coupled with mass Spectrometry and compound identification were used to identify the Elephant Garlic, so it was quite a comprehensive study. More research will be conducted on other Elephant Garlic samples from other areas to verify the findings. The entire paper can be read in the publication Molecules 2020 at https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25092082 The Article is called: Leek or Garlic? A Chemical Evaluation of Elephant Garlic Volatiles
References : Molecules 2020