Varieties of Garlic

Purple Striped Garlic

Within the garlic species of Allium sativum. Two major subspecies occur, the hard-necks (Ophioscorodon) and the soft-necks (Sativum - yes, that would be "Sativum" twice for the full name.) There are five hard-neck varieties, two that are sometimes hard and sometimes soft, and two soft-necks.

The Hardneck Garlic Varieties

Hard-necks produce a stalk or scape. The scape itself can be harvested and eaten when it is still soft. It will often bend around in a snake-like shape. Harvesting the scape is thought to allow the bulbs to retain more of the energy for growth.

Porcelain Garlic is stronger than average and stores for long periods at room temperature (as long as eight months). It generally has very few, but fairly large cloves. It tends to be more suited to northern than southern climes. Some sub-varieties: Romanian Red and Zemo.

Rocambole Garlic has a distinctive scape that shoots up in the spring that terminates in a double loop (which can be harvested and eaten). The peeled cloves will be slightly darker in color than most garlic. The Rocambole is somewhat fussy about growing conditions and much prefers northern to southern climes. The bulb is normally composed of six to eight cloves arranged around the scape. It does not store as well as most other garlic.

Purple Stripe Garlic is so named because of the purple vertical stripe on the parchment surrounding the bulbs. It should be noted that the coloration is greatly affected by the growing conditions. It has a rich flavor and is considered to store well. Purple stripe is good for regular use, but also highly recommended for roasting. Some sub-varieties include, Chesnok Red, Metechi, Siberian, and Persian Star.

The Softneck Garlic Varieties

Softneck garlic (Allium sativum var sativum) does not have a long stem that produces bulbs. It is the type that is usually braided. It grows in a wider variety of climates and grows faster than the hard-necks. There are more cloves in the soft-necks than the hard-necks, but they will be more difficult to peel.

Silverskin Garlic can be braided. It is considered to be among the longest storing garlics. It is stronger, more-pungently flavored than the average garlic. On average, it will have more and smaller cloves than other varieties. Sub-varieties include Rose du Var and Nootka Rose.

Artichoke Garlic is the variety most commonly seen in grocery stores. It is fairly prolific, producing more cloves than most other garlic, with many smaller ones as well as the larger. It is fairly easy to grow. Some sub-varieties will occasionally send up a scape. It comes in a range of intensity. Artichoke garlic stores well. Some sub-varieties include, Turban, Chinese Purple, California Early (and Late).

Elephant Garlic

What we call Elephant Garlic is not garlic at all. It is actually a type of leek. It is about twice the size of standard garlic with a milder flavor. Naturally, the cloves are much larger. It actually stores much longer than garlic. It grows taller than garlic and will often have a single stem with a flower on the end. The bulbs develop corms which can be split off and used for propagation.

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