Garlic Variety Descriptions Including a Very Brief Overview
OVERVIEW (updated August 2017):
There are literally hundreds of named garlic varieties! They all divide into two primary groups typically called hardneck and softneck. The farther north you plant, the easier it is to grow hardneck garlic varieties and the farther south you plant the easier it is to grow softneck varieties. What people call supermarket garlic is usually grown in southern China or California and is almost always a softneck variety. Within these two groupings, there are further divisions into categories such as porcelain, purple stripe, artichoke, etc.
At Plum Creek Garlic we focus on hardneck garlics because they are the most reliable producers in Minnesota. And although we like to experiment with new varieties because it is a lot of fun, below are the five garlic varieties we emphasize on our farm.
DEERFIELD PURPLE: One of our favorites, this is a purple stripe garlic and quite beautiful to look at. Milder than some when raw, it holds its flavor well when roasted. Double the number of cloves from any porcelain garlic at 9-11 cloves per head typically. This is a rare variety that comes originally from Vietnam via a USDA seed bank in eastern Washington and then via a farm in Oregon that named it after themselves since the seed bank only gave it a number.
GERMAN PORCELAIN: Also known as German White, Northern White or German Extra Hardy, this northern garlic thrives in Minnesota and has a reputation for a bit more heat than other porcelains. It tends to produce the largest bulbs of all the garlic we grow.
GEORGIAN CRYSTAL: A strong ‘bite’ when eaten raw and a smooth buttery flavor when roasted. Like most of the porcelain garlic varieties, it is a good keeper. Georgian Crystal is originally from the former East Germany Gatersleben Seed Bank and was known as Cichisdzhvari. Try pronouncing that while you are enjoying this wonderful garlic.
ARMENIAN: The Armenian bulbs tend to have a few, large cloves and they go with almost anything. Excellent roasted by itself or added to a variety of dishes. Like many porcelain garlics, Armenian is quite strong when raw.
MUSIC: Probably the most popular hardneck variety. Named after Al Music, a Canadian that brought this garlic to Ontario in the 1980’s. This is a very hardy porcelain variety with 4-6 cloves per head. Sometimes you see this garlic spelled Musik or even Musica and if you are really into trivia you need to pronounce Music with a soft ending (‘ich’) since Al Music comes from Bosnia originally.