Published by: Gourmet Sleuth
Last Updated: 03/17/2014
There are many varieties of garlic available. The most common (and most pungent) variety is the white skinned garlic grown mostly in the U.S. The slightly less pungent purple skinned garlic is grown in Mexico and Italy. Most of the garlic in the United States is grown in California, Louisiana, and Texas. The other largest world wide producers are France, Spain, Italy and Mexico. Another type of garlic you may find in your grocery store is Elephant garlic. This large bulb is really a type of "leek" and does not have a very strong garlic flavor.
Softneck garlic (stalkless) is the most common and popular garlic variety. It is the easiest to grow being very adaptable in a variety of climates and soils. These types of garlic are very productive and produce many smaller cloves per plant than other varieties and also are very popular for braiding. The garlic flavor ranges from very mild to very hot and lack the subtle but more complex flavors of the hardneck varieties. Softneck garlic can be stored longer than any other type, in fact, up to 10 months under optimum conditions. Two categories of this type include Artichoke garlic and Silverskin. Softneck garlic can be spring planted in some regions with "limited" success.
The Hardneck garlic produces a "woody" flower stalk. The cloves are much larger than the Softneck and easier to peel. Garlic of this type have more complex and interesting flavor than other varieties. This variety does not keep as long, in fact, a midsummer harvest may only store until January.
You can vary the amount of garlic flavor released by how you prepare the garlic. The more juices and oils extracted, the more garlic flavor will be incorporated into the food.