Recently (well, less recently than I’d like), a farmer friend of ours asked if we wouldn’t mind doing a taste test with seven of their garlic varieties, and also take some pictures. Since both my husband and I love garlic, we readily agreed.
We were given seven brown paper bags labeled with the names of seven different garlic varieties: Duganski, German Extra Hardy, German Red, Inchelium Red, Kettle River Basin, Music, and Red Russian.
Differences that I can tell between varieties include: size of head and clove, evenness of cloves, color & thickness of skin, hard- or soft-neck, peeling ease, and spiciness. Some of those differences are visual, others are not.
We decided we would take pictures first, and taste later. The first pictures we took were of the whole heads of garlic. Next I would take a clove (sometimes two) out of the head of garlic, and peel the clove. One of the main things I care about when selecting garlic (if I have the choice) is how easy is it to peel. The table below can walk you through the different characteristics. My favorites would be Music and Inchelium Red for ease of peel. Duganski was beautiful and mighty tasty, but not easy to peel.
|Variety name||Peeling ease||Skin characteristics||# of cloves, variability||Spiciness||Hard or softneck|
|Music||Easy||Pale purplish overtones, smooth skin||6, larger cloves, even sections||Average to spicy||Hardneck|
|Inchelium Red||Easy||Brown, yellowish skin||6 outer cloves, many inner cloves, wide variety in size||Spicy||Softneck|
|Red Russian||Easy||Brown/yellow veins||6 uniform larger cloves||Spicy||Hardneck|
|German Red||Average||White, wrinkly skin, no colored veins, thicker brown clove skin||8 cloves||Average||Hardneck|
|Duganski||Difficult||Pretty, smooth purple veined skin||8 cloves||Smooth, warm heat||Hardneck|
|German Extra Hardy||Difficult to extract one clove from head||Thick wrinkled skin with purple & brown veins||9 outer cloves, variable size||Spicy||Hardneck|
|Kettle River Basin||What a pain||Many thin layers make it difficult to peel||8 outer cloves, many small inner cloves||Mild||Softneck|
Do you have a favorite garlic variety? What characteristics do you look for when selecting a variety to plant or eat?