There are over 600 different varieties of garlic.
The type you grow & use will depend on where you live (your climate), where you want to grow it (indoors or outdoors), and how you want to use it (i.e. your recipes and food usage).
This is the type of garlic you will find in most shops – mainly because they are cheaper & easier to grow than the other varieties.
Softneck garlics are a good all-purpose garlic that will work in almost any dish.
Please note : It is quite easy to grow, but (like all garlics) it does tend to smell when growing – you won’t notice it outside (terrace, balcony, etc.) but will notice it indoors.
The main ones to try:
- Albigensian garlic seeds – Very nice flavour for a softneck garlic and often used in vegetable and fish dishes. (Or when roasted)
- Germidour garlic seeds – Very easy to grow with a mild and sweet flavour. Ideal for all recipes where you want a ‘garlic flavour’
- French Messidrome Garlic Seeds – Very often used in French kitchens, and ideal for use in slow cookers. Sweet and sharp with a regular garlic taste.
Hardneck Garlic – the garlic bulbs
Go into most top restaurants and you will probably spot the chef using a hardneck garlic. (As opposed to the softneck garlic varieties)
Hardneck garlics are very flavoursome, sometimes even spicy & hot.
They are ideal for areas with very cold winters (such as the UK, Northern Europe, North America, etc.) so they are dormant and then start in the spring i.e. ideal for outdoors, vegetable garden plots, etc.
- Chesnok red garlic seeds – Great taste and possible the best garlic for roasting
- Purple stripe garlic seeds – Good ‘all purpose’ garlic and will keep their flavour when using in cooking.
- Red duke garlic – fiercely intense and spicy flavour. One of the strongest flavour garlics you can grow at home,
hardneck Rocambole garlic -Hot and full of flavour, they are a chef’s favourite. include ‘Carpathian,’ ‘German Red,’ and ‘Spanish Roja.’
Harneck Garlic – the scapes
In addition to the garlic pods the hardneck garlic types will also produce scapes. A scape is what you call the flowering stalk growing in the middle of hardneck garlic bulbs.
Very often the scape is removed in order to get a bigger garlic bulb.
However scapes are delicious and can be used in a variety of ways. It will taste fresh, green with a hint of fresh garlic.
You can either use them slightly steamed, or sauteed in butter & seasoned or as a paste for making your own pesto.
Scapes are in season during the spring and sometimes the early summer.
Other Garlic Types
Black Garlic Seeds – Ideal if you want to add a pleasant savory (even plummy) taste to meals. Very popular in Korean & Japanese recipes – but can even be used in desserts, chocolate cakes, etc.