Hard­neck gar­lic

Ontario Gardener Magazine - - GARDEN FEATURES -

Hard­neck gar­lic is not one type of plant, but rather a di­verse group of cul­ti­vars which can be or­ga­nized into sub­cat­e­gories. Al­though there are many clues as to which gar­lic falls into what cat­e­gory, re­searchers have ap­plied mod­ern ge­netic test­ing to ac­cu­rately clas­sify hard­neck gar­lic strains, help­ing grow­ers pro­vide qual­ity in­for­ma­tion on the lin­eage and char­ac­ter­is­tics as­so­ci­ated with the bulbs (many of the hard­neck va­ri­eties are heir­looms that were brought to Canada by im­mi­grants). Just as with fine wines, the gourmet gar­lic re­nais­sance is all about savour­ing com­plex­ity, depth and va­ri­ety.

Here is an overview of the four most sig­nif­i­cant cat­e­gories of hard­neck garlics, and the qual­i­ties gen­er­ally as­so­ci­ated with each.

Mar­bled Pur­ple Stripe

• Medium to hot flavour, with ex­cel­lent “classic gar­lic” pun­gency

• Large, highly con­sis­tent clove size

• 6 - 8 cloves per bulb

• Very re­li­able in the gar­den

• Ex­am­ples in­clude: Rus­sian Red

Porce­lain

• Strik­ingly beau­ti­ful, with pure white wrap­per

• Fewer cloves but very large

• Easy to peel and easy to sep­a­rate from the head

• Store 6 - 7 months

• Ex­am­ples in­clude: Ma­jes­tic, Mu­sic

and Ge­or­gian Fire

Pur­ple Stripe

• Gor­geous pur­ple streaked wrap­pers

• 5 - 6 medium sized cloves

• Ex­cel­lent for roast­ing

• Dis­tinc­tive look­ing plants, with widely splayed fo­liage and tightly curling scapes

• Ex­am­ples in­clude: Ch­es­nok Red, Siberian and Per­sian Star

Ro­cam­bole

• Hottest, most com­plex in flavour, and later to ma­ture

• Thin skins and large cloves that chef's love

• Shorter stor­age time but most com­plex flavour pro­files

• Ex­am­ples in­clude: Ger­man Red & Ukra­nian Gar­lic

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