HARDNECK VS. SOFTNECK
It's quite confusing when browsing the interwebs looking for garlic varieties. There are hundreds! The good news is that a few years ago a genetic identification project carried out by the government (see it's good for something!) determined that there are only ten distinct genetic garlic types. All of the culinary garlic you eat is in the species Allium sativum and this is divided into two main groups, the hardneck group (ophio) and the softneck group. Hardneck varieties have scapes that branch out in the spring as seed stalks whereas the softneck varieties don't produce scapes.
Softneck varieties are what you would typically find in the supermarket; they generally store for up to a year, are smaller in profile, and generally tend to have less flavorful taste profiles. They also don't give you a varietal choice. You get what's there. While that is mostly good for big distributors and grocers who want to place produce all year round, it's not great for consumers who want a choice of robust, flavorful garlic. Discover what you've been missing with our gourmet hardneck varieties! Read more.
Pictured below are softneck (left) and hardneck (right) varieties.