Generally, the grocery stores sell softneck garlic. Because of its coarse, thick skins, it’s shelf life is much longer than that of hardnecks. It can be as much as ten months old before you buy it, having been imported from California ir China.
It’s cheaper to buy because it’s less work to grow on a massive scale: it produces no scapes to be plucked, and can be mechanically planted. Varieties are chosen for these features rather than flavour.
BUT, many softneck garlics taste great. We chose our varieties for their incredible flavour.
Eating them fresh — closer to their August harvest date — will give you a vastly improved flavour.
These guys really are great keepers. We’ve eaten bulbs from storage in March and April, and they’ve still tasted great.
Usually, they have more cloves than hardnecks, sometimes as many as 20, ranging from very large to very small.
They don’t waste their time with scapes; instead, they produce a pliable neck and leaves that are easily braided. Softnecks are the best varieties for braiding.
We grow 1 variety of softneck: Artichoke.