HARDNECK and SOFTNECK are the broadest terms used for all varieties of garlic, and there are several hundred sub-species within those varieties. Let’s break it down and make it simple…


(Allium sativum ophioscorodon) produces fewer cloves than softneck, and is better suited to northern, cooler climates. Each plant produces a garlic scape, a central shoot with a flower atop it. Hardnecks tend to have fewer but more uniform cloves around the stalk. There are three distinct groups of hardnecks: Rocambole, Purple Stripe, and Porcelain.

Rocambole : These are the most widely known and widely grown of the hardneck garlics. They have a deeper, more full-bodied flavor than softnecks.  Rocamboles produce large cloves which are easily peeled, making them preferred by chefs & food processors.  Their loose skins however, give rise to their major disadvantage, a shorter storage life than most other varieties.  By the end of January most Rocamboles show signs of dehydration or begin to sprout.  Most strains average 6 to 11 cloves in a single circle around the stem. 

Suggested Varieties in our Farm Store: Amish / German Red / Russian Red / Spanish Roja 

Purple Striped : Aptly named for the stripes which all have to some degree. These are the most attractive looking garlics. They are also very flavorful, usually winning "best baked garlic" taste tests. Most strains have 8 to 12 cloves per bulb so clove size is slightly smaller. Cloves are noticeably tallish and crescent shaped. They store slightly longer than Rocamboles & peel almost as easily. Purple Stripe plants are distinctive from Rocamboles because their leaves grow at wider angles to the stem. 

Suggested Varieties in our Farm Store: Belaru / Dugansky

Porcelain garlics have a thick, tough skin making them excellent for storing. The heads are plump with just a few large, fat cloves. Porcelains are all full-flavored, generally running to musky hot and pungent in taste. They are usually more expensive to buy and have the fewest cloves per bulb… sometimes as few as 4 although 6-8 is more typical. This variety is becoming increasingly popular as gardeners and garlic connoisseurs learn of their unique properties. Their cloves are often as large as unshelled Brazil nuts and are frequently mistaken for elephant garlic. Their flavor is outstanding, rivaling that of Rocamboles.  Because of their smooth, tight bulb wrappers, they store longer than Rocamboles.

Suggested Varieties in our Farm Store: Georgian Fire / Music / Romanian Red


(Allium sativum sativum) most garlic in the supermarket is the softneck variety. This is because softneck garlic is easier to grow and plant mechanically and also keeps for longer than hardneck. Softnecks are recognized by the white papery skin and an abundance of cloves, often forming several layers around the central core.  There are two main types of softneck garlic: silverskin and artichoke.

Artichokes are generally very large, store well, and have a wide mild range of flavors. It is the variety most commonly seen in grocery stores  They usually average about 12-18 cloves per bulb and have a tight seal, which allows them to store about 8 months.

Suggested varieties in our Farm Store : Inchelium Red / Lorz

Silverskins are considered to be among the longest storing garlics (10 months or more at room temperature). It is stronger, more-pungently flavored than the average garlic. On average, it will have more and smaller cloves than other varieties. Silverskin garlics are typically, but not always, the ones that you see in braids. Silverskins have a very rich garlic flavor and range anywhere from mild to hot in pungency.

Suggested variety in our Farm Store : Nootka Rose