Did you know that there are many types or cultivars of garlic grown that you likely won’t find in a grocery store? The main reason you don’t see most types is because the type of garlic you find in the grocery store is a “softneck” garlic which is mechanically planted and harvested. That attribute, plus their long storage life of six to eight months and relative mild taste, make them idea for the mass retail market. There are two varieties of softneck (silverskin and the artichoke) and you willl find differences in the colour of the skin and to some degree, subtle differences in flavour.
If your ready to try a larger, stronger and much more complex garlic, then you will want to try the other type of garlic: the hardneck. Hardneck garlic has three main varieties – Rocambole, Porcelain and Purple Stripe and unlike their softneck cousins, they have to be planted by hand and require the scape to be removed about a month before hand harvesting in order to produce a superior garlic. Hardneck varieties are THE choice of the garlic gourmets as they have a more intense flavour with a stunning array of robust, subtle, intriguing, spicy and delicious flavours. These cloves of hardneck garlic are larger than softneck with some varieties having only five or six very large cloves and the average having about eight large cloves. They tend to have a shorter storage life than their softneck cousins and over time, the intensity can mellow but the unique and distinctive flavour remains.
At this year’s BC Day Garlic festival on August 7 at Persephone Brewery from 11am to 4pm, you will be able to check out these types of garlic, and the many cultivars that your local farmer grows, at the best prices of the season.