There are five elements: earth, air, fire, water and garlic. -- Louis Diat
There is no such thing as a little garlic. -- Arthur Baer
Without garlic I simply would not care to live. -- Louis Diat
Take a good look at the "loving" words about garlic given above, and you will realize that for some people, garlic is an indispensable part of their food (maybe even life). We all know that garlic is one of those bulb vegetables that receives reactions in the extremes. Either people love it (as you may notice in the aforesaid quotes) or they may very simply not like it at all. But the fondness for garlic is subjective, really. For most of us, the use of garlic limits itself to that of food, but culinary uses apart, there are innumerable other benefits of garlic too. But what about the various garlic types that a garlic lover could possibly choose from? It is said that over 600 sub-varieties of garlic are grown worldwide, but we most definitely cannot go over all 600 of them, so we'll take a look at just a few of the main types.
In general, garlic is categorized into two basic types: Hardneck & Softneck. These two large categories are further broken down into the types that we are probably more aware of on the whole. There are roughly about 6 basic garlic varieties and 4 sub-types that are most commonly used. Take a look at what they are...
This variety is known to be one of the most highly flavored kinds amongst the several varieties of garlic that are available. Even though this kind of garlic may not quite be the best when it comes to the way it looks, it gets compensated on the marvelous flavor it is made up with. The rocambole comes with just one set of cloves around the stalk, as well as has thinner bulb wrappers. This one has a strong, almost pungent flavor, but loses out on the shelf-life, since that comes in close to only about six months.
Often referred to as the most beautiful type of garlic, the bulb wrappers of this variety are thicker than the rocambole garlic. This characteristic of the garlic can also make it slightly tougher to peel, at times. The porcelain normally comes with either four or five big cloves per bulb, and is often mistaken for the elephant garlic too, because of its size. As for the storage life, it is a little longer than that of the rocambole, and goes up to about 8 months.
Purple Stripe Garlic
As the name suggests, this variety of garlic is best identified by the striking purple stripe that runs down the wrapper. Just like the two types mentioned above, this one too is of the hardneck variety. It is largely used in cooking, especially since it has a very nice flavor (rich but not pungent) and aroma when cooked. Just like the storage life of the rocambole, the purple stripe variety also lasts just about six months. There are also two popular sub-types of the purple stripe garlic. They are Marbled Purple Stripe & Glazed Purple Stripe.
Even though the artichoke garlic may occasionally be found with purple spots or streaks on them, they must not be mistaken with the purple stripe garlic. For starters, this garlic is a part of the softneck garlic, as opposed to the other which is a component of the hardneck variety. A mildly flavored type of garlic, the artichoke variety can last up to around 8 months if stored in the right conditions. Also, the cloves on this garlic are fewer in number, as well as larger in size.
Next in line for the softneck garlic is the silverskin garlic. For those of you that have been looking for varieties of garlic to grow, this one is perfect, since it is one of the easiest growing options. Now, although it is known for the fact that it grows easily, you must know that it isn't exceptional when it comes to the taste, for the silverskin garlic is just about average in terms of flavor. The long shelf-life of this variety does however make it a popular commercial option (this one lasts almost one year). A popular sub-type of the silverskin garlic is the Creole garlic.
With the poorest storage life amongst all those mentioned, the Asiatic garlic lasts hardly about five months. Another disadvantage with this type of garlic is that it often opens up before harvest itself. Quite the contrary to what we just called a disadvantage, if you are looking for some really quick growing garlic, you might want to take a chance with this one, since it reaches harvest way quicker than the others. A popular sub-type of the Asiatic Garlic is the Asiatic Turban.
That was a little bit about the various varieties of garlic that are easiest available, and most frequently used. Hopefully, now that you know about them, you'll be able to tell the difference between the various kinds.