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“I didn’t know there were so many varieties of garlic!”
If only we had a dime for every time we’ve heard this! Garlic is no different than tomatoes, peppers or other types of heirloom vegetables. There are literally hundreds of unique varieties of each, handed down from generation to generation because of an important family connection, many you’ll still find growing in backyard gardens around the world after hundreds of years. Why? Because these varieties have exceptional flavor, nutrient density, and superior growth characteristics that make them sought after. For many of us those exceptional flavors reconnect us with our past and remind us of what “good” really tastes like.
Nowadays most “food” is not what you’d find growing in the garden of your parents or grandparents. The majority of the varieties of produce you’ll find in the grocery store have been “bred” primarily for shelf life and transportability, NOT FLAVOR. So you won’t be shocked to learn the same is true of the garlic that you’ll find there as well!
“Softneck” garlic is the predominant type of garlic sold in America because it has a very long storage life AND requires significantly less labor to grow. There are numerous varieties of softneck garlic but two varieties dominate the shelves of stores across the US: “California White” and “California Early.” Can you guess where the garlic in most stores comes from? Oddly, the majority of garlic sold in the US is imported from China.
We don’t grow softneck garlic, only “hardneck” varieties. Why? Two reasons: FLAVOR and NUTRIENT DENSITY. Top chefs and foodies alike swear by the exceptional and unique flavor characteristics of different varieties. Many take the time and consideration to “pair” their garlic variety to their meals much like many would pair their wine. Whether it’s Morado Gigante for a delicate fish entrée, Blanak for a fiery salsa or Chesnok Red for Garlic Mashed Taters, it’s a world of garlic flavor most never knew existed after a lifetime of bland grocery store flavors.
Within the universe of “hardneck garlic” there are a number of subgroups including Porcelain, Rocambole, Purple Stripe, Marbled Purple Stripe, Glazed Purple Stripe, Asiatic, Turban and Creole. Each of these subgroups has general characteristics that make some better suited for certain climates, have favorable growth tendencies, or exhibit unique flavor profiles. Within each subgroup, you will then find named varieties such as Spanish Roja, German Extra Hardy, Tibetan, and many others. Each variety is unique and what often attracts customers to certain varieties is a connection to geographic location via family genealogy, a memorable vacation to an exotic location, or an exceptional culinary experience tied to a specific cuisine. We encourage you to explore all of the varieties listed, stock up on your favorites, and try some new ones. Not sure where to start? Drop us a note and we’ll be happy to help you navigate all the options.