Wednesday's In the Know: Garlic Varieties!
If you are anything like me and simply love garlic, knowing there are other varieties from which to choose from just may peak your interest. Do I have your attention now? Read on for more details, thanks to the thorough overview and pictures by Food Hacks.
- Overview: Hardneck garlic (Allium sativum ophioscorodon) tend to have more flavor than their soft-necked cousins. They're characterized by hard woody central stalks and a long flower stalk (scape) that loops and curls, usually twice. They tend to have four to twelve cloves in each bulb. They can also be found with a rosy color profile which are truly decadent yet hard to come by! – Food Hacks
- Use: Use these for roasts with gamier meats, like duck or venison, as well as vinaigrettes that have other hearty ingredients, like mustard or apple cider vinegar. If you're making garlic-infused olive oil or vinegar, use a hardneck garlic if one is available for more flavor. – Food Hacks
- Overview: Softneck garlic (Allium sativum sativum) is believed to have evolved from hardneck garlic and comprises most of the garlic you see in major supermarkets. Because it lacks the flowering scape of hardneck garlic, it produces many more cloves—sometimes as few as eight, and sometimes as many as thirty. – Food Hacks
- Use: If you want to eat or use garlic raw or lightly cooked, you'll probably head for a softneck variety. If you're making a simple salad dressing where garlic is a featured flavor, opt for softneck garlic. It has a more grassy, plant-like taste and doesn't have the bite of its hardneck siblings. – Food Hacks
- Overview: Originally thought to be a variety of softneck garlic, Creole garlic turns out to be in a class by itself—literally. These garlic bulbs tend to have up to 12 cloves and range from a beautiful light pink to an almost purple glow. Unlike the rosy varieties of hardneck garlics, the entire bulb itself tends to range in color from pink to red to purple. This type of garlic tends to have some heat to its flavor and the pungency varies depending on the variety you buy. Definitely do the sniff test before you purchase—it'll tell you how much “bite” the garlic contains. – Food Hacks
- Overview: It's recognizably garlic at first bite, but it has rich, plummy undertones as well as a hint of vinegar. It's a little chewy, like good dried fruit, and it works well when cooking for people who hate regular garlic. – Food Hacks
- Uses: According to some chefs, black garlic adds that rich, meaty umami flavor to dishes that might otherwise lack it. It works well in sauces and vinaigrettes, but not recommended for large-scale use, like marinades, given its higher ticket price! – Food Hacks
- Overview: Garlic scapes and ramps often get confused for one another, but they are two distinct varieties of greens. Scapes are the flowering stalk that grow in the middle of hardneck garlic bulbs. It twists and loops and often has a tear-drop shaped white bulb near its end. It's usually removed so that the plant won't produce more seeds and will instead grow a bigger garlic bulb. – Food Hacks
- Uses: Scapes are absolutely delicious, especially when sautéed in butter, oil, and seasoned with a little fleur de sel. The texture is tender yet crisp. They're great as a side dish, steamed until tender and served in salads, or used as an accompaniment for pasta. Given their flavor profile is so delicate, they aren’t recommended in a vinaigrette, since their flavor may get lost. – Food Hacks
- Overview: Ramps (Allium tricoccum) tend to have a couple of wide, spade-shaped leaves and grow from 4 to 12 inches long with tender, pale-green stems. Their flavor is like a cross between young garlic and spring onions: pungent yet sweet. They're closely related to wild garlic (Allium vineale), which is considered by many to be a weed. – Food Hacks
- Uses: Like scapes, they work in just about anything, whether they're lightly sautéed and served alongside a main dish or used to create an extravagantly tasty pasta. – Food Hacks
Elephant / Buffalo Garlic:
- Overview: Elephant garlic (also called Buffalo garlic) is milder than most garlics, but has an onion-y edge to its taste. – Food Hacks
- Uses: Elephant garlic is often interchangeable with softneck garlics in terms of taste and works as well as softnecks in sauces, vinaigrettes, and stir-fries. It's also great when roasted, especially if you have a lot of people coming over, since it's so ginormous. – Food Hacks
Now that you have a few varieties of garlic to experiment with, I encourage you to take a trip to the market and start putting them to use!
For other terrific tips and hundreds of recipes, visit my website (thetabletogether.com). While there, consider “subscribing” and I will send a new tip or blog post directly to your inbox every Tuesday and Wednesday morning!
P.S. Make sure you check out my YouTube channel, The Table Together with Tiffany Lewis, solely dedicated to bringing all of these fantastic tips and recipes to life!
Cheers to starting a new tradition around The Table Together!
Founder and true believer in the power of bringing people around The Table Together!