Learning To Love The Clove: Exploring Garlic Varieties

There’s no denying that garlic is a strong flavor. A vegetable that promotes restraint and thoughtfulness, garlic can easily overpower a meal. When many of us think of garlic, the Softneck variety is often the only thing to comes to mind. Garlic isn’t a one-trick pony however, as there are numerous varieties that vary in taste, size, and color. Here are a few of the more prominent members of garlic’s extended family.

Hardneck Garlic

The strongest competition for the garlic throne, some consider Hardback to be a more refined, superior variety. Identifiable by its long stalk, Hardneck garlic has a stronger, typically spicier flavor, making it ideal for dishes that are garlic forward. If you plan on making a garlic infused sauce, look to Hardneck garlic.

Buffalo Garlic

Also referred to as “Elephant garlic,” this variety is identifiable for its massive size and easy to peel cloves. Similar to Softneck garlic, elephant garlic is mild in taste and is particularly tasty when roasted. A great choice for chefs who need to prepare large amounts of garlic, Buffalo garlic is consistently a great substitute for Softneck.

Creole Garlic

One of the more rare varieties, Creoles need warmer climates to grow properly. Easily identifiable by their bulbous bodies and pink skin, Creoles have a level of heat that sets them apart. Perfectly suited Southern and Creole cuisine, they have a strong flavor but a fantastically sweet finish. This variety stores extremely well, so be sure to stock up whenever you can get your hands on it.

Black Garlic

Prominent in Japanese and Korean cuisines, Black garlic is unique for its bittersweet, umami flavor. Its flavor profile is completely unlike any other varieties, making it a great choice for adventurous, experimental dishes. Black garlic is typically more expensive than other varieties due to its longer production time, so be sure to use it sparingly.

Silverskin Garlic

A popular variety of Softneck garlic, Silverskins are known for their soft skin and pliable necks. Very mellow in flavor without sacrificing that “garlic” taste, this variety stores for a long time, often lasting up to a year when dried. Silverskin is a great choice for dishes that require a complimentary garlic flavor. Try roasting for a great pizza topping!