Varieties of Garlic

If you thought that the only type of garlic available to cooks was elephant garlic, you’re in for a surprise. There are many different types of garlic that you can cook with, at least 40 different varieties and approximately 600 sub-varieties grown around the world. There are all types of taste differences, from so mild that they can be eaten raw to very strong. Learn about some common varieties that can be eaten raw, to those that will add a distinctive zing to your cooking.

Photo by Peter Zaharov at Dreamstime.com.
Photo by Peter Zaharov at Dreamstime.com.

Common Garlic Varieties

The following are some of the common varieties of garlic, arranged by strength of flavor,ranging from very mild (may be eaten raw) to strong:

Raw

  • California Early
  • Cuban Purple

Mild

  • Applegate
  • Earl Red
  • ItalianRed
  • Toch
  • Siciliano
  • Simoneti
  • Chet's Italian
  • RedKorean
  • RedRussian
  • Redstreak
  • S&H Silverskin
  • Burgundy

Medium

  • Inchelium Red
  • Maiskij
  • Silverwhite
  • Ajo Rojo
  • Creole Red
  • Labera Purple
  • Pescadero Red
  • Persian Star
  • Belarus
  • Purple Glazer
  • Siberian
  • Georgian Crystal

Strong

  • Lorz Italian
  • Shilla
  • Purple Cauldron
  • Nootka Rose
  • Chesnok Red
  • Metechi
  • Bogatyr
  • Georgian Fire
  • Romanian Red
  • German Stiffneck
  • Music
  • German White
  • Zemo
  • Rosewood
  • Wild Buff
  • Leningrad
  • Polish Hardneck
  • Spanish Roja
  • Killarney Red
  • German Red
  • Polish Carpathian
  • Amish Rocambole
  • Purple Italian
  • Rocambole
  • Italian Easy Peel
  • Korean Red Hot
  • Asian Tempest

Hint: Some of the strong varieties are so strong that they will burn your tongue and throat and bring a tear to your eye. If you're not familiar with the strong garlics, such as Asian Tempest, start with the milder varieties first, then work your way up to the stronger varieties. Enjoying garlic is like a love affair; if you take it slow, you'll enjoy the journey that much more.

Hardneck vs. Softneck

As you are learning about the different varieties of garlic, you may hear terms such as hardneck and softneck.

Softneck varieties are the type commonly found at your local supermarket. They have white, papery skins and multiple cloves that are easily separated. There are two types of softneck varieties: artichoke and silverskin. If you see a garlic braid, it is most likely one of the softneck varieties.

Hardneck varieties have fewer cloves and have little, or no papery outer wrapper protecting the cloves. This makes them harder to store for extended periods of time. These varieties are a little harder to find; they are usually available from gourmet cooking sources. There are six main types of hardneck garlic: porcelain (which closely resembles elephant garlic), Rocombole, purple stripe, Asiatic, turban and Creole.

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Comments 5 comments

Chris Coetzee 5 years ago

hi guys chris here from south africa, where can i get elphant garlic and silver rose seeds, i have a small holding and believe there is a market for that, will start in small amounts and then go bigger, me email kids@saifn.org


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Gerber Ink 5 years ago from upstate New York Author

Hi Carl, Sorry for the delayed response! I live in the U.S. and am not sure of trade rules where you live. However, I came across this website that claims to be a global trader of garlic and garlic products - http://www.tradekey.com/ks-garlic-sellers/. Personally I've purchased my seed garlic from http://www.millernurseries.com, but I'm not sure if they ship internationally.


Carl Maree 5 years ago

I am growing seed garlic at the moment in South Africa but there are only 3 types pf garlic here. I would like to know ere I can buy seed cloves of the varieties that will grow in South Africa. Were I farm it gets cold in the winter, (May to July) and hot in the summer (Sept March) We have an abundance of bottling quality water. Please let me know asap as it is nearly planting season Thanks


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Gerber Ink 6 years ago from upstate New York Author

Hi flint3099, Nor did I before writing this hub! I've been growing garlic for years, but due to growing conditions where I live, I've been limited to the types that will do well in my area.


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flint3099 6 years ago

I had no idea there were this many kinds of garlic. 40 different varieties is a lot indeed. Very interesting.

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