Recently, there has been a lot in the news about the promising possibilities that garlic has in reducing and maintaining a healthy level of cholesterol. What is known for sure is that garlic is a wonderful source of vitamins A and C, potassium, phosphorous, selenium, and some amino acids. Not only nutritious, but it’s also delicious! But have you ever wondered about the different types of garlic plants you can grow?
Go to a supermarket and there’s a good chance you’ll see one type of garlic, maybe two or three if you’re lucky. However, there are quite a few Allium sativum out there, far from those white paper bulbs most of us encounter at our nearest Stop ‘n’ Shop.
While most recipes do not specify what type of garlic to use specifically, once you know the basic types, you can start experimenting with the flavors and nuances that each different type brings to the table. Read on to explore the wonderful world of garlic.
GARLIC VARIETIES TO GROW
The history of garlic is long and complicated. Originally from Central Asia, it has been cultivated in the Mediterranean for over 5,000 years.
Gladiators ate garlic before the battle, and Egyptian slaves are said to have consumed it to give them the strength to build the pyramids. There are two different types of garlic, although some consider elephant garlic to be the third type. Elephant garlic is actually a member of the onion family, but it is a type of leek.
It has very large bulbs with very few cloves, three or four, and it has a sweet and chewy onion/garlic flavor and a similar mine hence the confusion. Garlic is one of 700 varieties of the Allium, or onion, family. The two different types of garlic are the softneck (Allium sativum) and hard neck (Allium ophioscorodon), which is sometimes called neck stiffness.
Hard-necked garlic (Allium sativum ophioscorodon) tends to have more flavor than its soft-necked cousins. They are characterized by solid woody centre stems and a long flower stalk (scape) that twists and turns, usually twice. They tend to have four to twelve lobes per bulb.
This solid wood leg in the centre of the lamp tells you it’s Hardneck
Scalloped garlic can sometimes be hot or hot. Others say they are spicier, more complex, and more “winged”. The porcelain, rocambole and stripe purple varieties are part of the hard neck family.
Stiff neck garlic tends to grow best in areas with very cold winters, as it requires a longer period of spawning (i.e. they need a long, cold winter to be dormant in order to bloom in the spring).
The most common type of tough garlic is “Rocambole,” which has large, easy-to-peel cloves and has a stronger flavor than soft-necked garlic. The soft, easy-to-peel skin reduces the shelf life to about four to five months. Unlike soft-necked garlic, hard-necked shoots send out flowering stems, or scabs, that become woody. Types of stiff neck garlic to grow to include:
- ‘Chesnok Red’
- ‘German White’
- ‘Polish Hardneck’
- ‘Persian Star’
- ‘Purple Stripe’
(1) Thin-neck garlic. Note the number of lobes and the amount of central stem lost.
(2) Garlic with a hard neck.
If you are in a farmers’ market and find pink / purple garlic bulbs on the flesh of garlic cloves and delicate skins, you are probably looking for hard-necked garlic. . Buy it immediately. You want them in your life and in your stomach.
I use them for roasting with more game meats, like duck or venison, as well as for salad dressings with other fatty ingredients, like mustard or apple cider vinegar. If you are making olive oil or garlic vinegar, use hard neck garlic if there is garlic to add flavor. This pink blush under the fragile skin: it’s not awkward, it’s tough
Soft-necked garlic (Allium sativum sativum) is thought to have evolved from tough-necked garlic and includes most of the garlic you see in large supermarkets. Since it lacks the flowering stem of tough garlic, it produces a lot of cloves – sometimes as many as eight, and sometimes as many as thirty or more cloves.
Softneck Garlic is great all-purpose garlic that works well with almost any dish.
If you like to eat or use raw or lightly cooked garlic, you will likely choose a soft-necked variety. If you’re making a simple marinade where garlic has a distinct flavor, switch to soft-necked garlic. It tastes more herbal and vegan and does not have the sting of its stiff neck siblings.
Most processed garlic foods, such as garlic powder and spices, come from soft-necked garlic. Artichoke (the breed that sells in supermarkets) and Silverskin (the kind you’ll see braided most often) are two types of soft-necked garlic.
Among the soft-necked varieties, there are two common types of garlic: artichoke and silvery leather. These two common types of garlic are sold in the supermarket and you may have used them.
Artichoke is named for its similarity to an artichoke vegetable, with several layers containing up to 20 cloves. They are white to yellowish-white in color with a thick, hard-to-peel outer layer. The beauty of this is its long shelf life – up to eight months. Some types of artichoke garlic include:
- California Early
- California Late
- Polish Red
- Red Toch
- Early Red Italian
- Italian Purple
- Lorz Italian
- Inchelium Red
- Italian Late
Silver leather is highly productive and adaptable to many climates and is the type of garlic used for garlic braids. Types of garlic plants intended for silver leather include.
- Polish White
- Chet’s Italian Red
- Kettle River Giant.
Creole Garlic is originally a smooth-necked garlic variety and has come out in a category of its own – literally. These garlic bulbs tend to hold up to 12 cloves and range from pretty bright pink to an almost purple glow. Unlike the tough pink varieties of garlic, the onion itself tends to be pink/red/purple.
Ago Morado assortment of creole garlic. Note the rich and beautiful color.
Creole garlic is very rare and grows best in warmer climates. Creole grape varieties tend to have a wine reference in their names. Some of the species are Cuban Purple, Ajo Rojo, Burgundy, Creole Red and Rose de Lautrec.
This type of garlic tends to have a little spiciness in its flavor, and the spices will vary depending on the one you buy. Do a sniff test before purchasing – it will tell you how much stinging garlic has. I have only spotted this garlic many times at various farmers markets and have always regretted not buying more.
Like many superheroes, Black Garlic’s origins are uncertain and shrouded in mystery. Scott Kim claims to have invented it. Others say it dates back to ancient Egypt. All I know is that there is a lot of black garlic in Korean grocery stores (the Japanese also use it), and its taste is virtually indecipherable.
Garlic is recognizable from the first bite, but it has rich undertones of plum plus a little vinegar. It’s a bit chewy, like good dried fruit, and works well for cooking for people who hate regular garlic.
Regular garlic may take up to a month to reach this caramel/fermentation stage.
It has hints of dark caramel, chocolate, some bitterness, some sweetness and umami, as well as je ne sais quoi, ”said Evan Hanzor, president of the Brooklyn Archdiocese.
A mixture of fermentation, dehydration, and gentle heat is used to cream the sugars in garlic over a long period of time and turn them black.
Black garlic, according to some chefs, adds a rich, meaty umami flavor to dishes that would otherwise be lacking. I serve it on its own as an appetizer or use it as an appetizer for salads and meats. It also works well in sauces and gravies but is too expensive to use for anything large, like a marinade. Some people use it as a dessert, like this chocolate cake with dark garlic and raspberry sauce.
Maria Siriano, who created this recipe, noticed that it was likely intended only for adventurous eaters.
Garlic peels and squab often overlap, but they are two different types of green vegetables. As mentioned earlier, the skin is the flowering stems that grow amidst the tough garlic bulbs. They are curled and curled and often have a white teardrop-shaped bulb near its end. It is usually removed so that the plant does not produce more seeds and instead produces a larger bulb of garlic.
Food expert Dorie Greenspan loves to eat squab raw or use it as a basis for pesto.
Scabs are magically delicious, especially when sautéed in butter and oil and seasoned with a little Fleur de Ciel. The flavor is fresh, green, vegetarian, and saturated with the taste of young and fresh garlic. The texture is thin but crisp.
It’s perfect as a side dish, steamed until soft and served in salads, or used as a side dish for pasta. I wouldn’t use it to taste anything like salad dressing because its flavor is so delicate.
The staples are in the spring season and sometimes early summer. Sadly, I haven’t found many places on the West Coast that sell them, stiff neck garlic thrives in colder climates, and when I do, the scales are harder and more fibrous. If you are a fan of garlic and are lucky enough to live in an area where landscapes grow, buy every bag you can meet.
Cliffs (Allium tricoccum) tend to have a few broad, trowel-shaped leaves that are 4 to 12 inches long with thin pale green stems. Its flavor resembles a mixture of baby garlic and green onion: refreshing yet sweet. It is closely related to wild garlic (Allium vineale), which is considered by many as a weed.
Sloping bulbs are delicious, too, although some chefs throw them away. Image via Cantaloupe alone
However, the slopes are known to cause frenzy when they appear at farmers’ markets. Early spring is the best season for them. Like squab, it works in just about anything, whether it’s lightly fried and served with a main dish or used to make incredibly delicious pasta.
ELEPHANT / BUFFALO GARLIC
guess what? These giant garlic bulbs on steroids are actually part of the leek family. Elephant garlic (also called buffalo garlic) is actually Allium ampeloprasum, not sativum. It is sweeter than most garlic, but it tastes like onions.
Elephant garlic is often interchangeable with soft-necked garlic for flavor and works just as soft garlic in sauces, gravies, and french fries. It’s also great when roasting, especially if you have a lot of people because it’s so huge.
Seriously, look how big this thing is!
I love this type of garlic because its giant cloves make it easy to peel. Also, when I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to cook onions and garlic, I tend to use elephant garlic by default.
If you really want to try different and all types of garlic, your best bet is to head to your local farmer’s market and do some sniffing (literally). Once you try different types of garlic, you will need more.
Now that you know the differences between all types of garlic, you should know how to peel garlic cloves more easily using the microwave, and even how to “peel” whole garlic cloves at once. Then turn to the onion cheat sheet to find out the differences between leeks, green onions, and other types of Allium cepa.
Names for garlic tend to appear all over the map. This is because a lot of the seed stock is developed by individuals who can name the strain as they like. Therefore, some types of garlic plants can be very similar despite having different names, and some may be very different from one another.
There are no “real” varieties of garlic plants, so they are called strains. You may want to experiment with different varieties until you find the ones that work best for your climate.