Garlic's Hidden Variety

Despite its status as one of the most ubiquitous ingredients in the modern American diet, most people don't actually know that much about garlic. They might know what dishes will most benefit from garlic's aid. They might even know the difference between garlic salt and garlic powder.

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And they almost certainly know to avoid it if they're hoping for a little romancing later in the evening.

But this relative of the onion, leek, and chive claims a history and diversity almost universally unknown to the millions of people around the world that eat it every day.

Native to Central Asia, garlic has been in use for thousands of years and has migrated all over the globe. That migration, aided by the creativity of its cultivators, has yielded hundreds of unique varieties of garlic with wide variations in both flavor and heat intensity.

That kind of variety can be intimidating to someone trying to decide which garlic cultivar to use for a particular dish. And while scientists have broken down the various garlics based on their biological characteristics, there remains a great amount of flavor diversity within each specific family.

Even within a single species, cultivators have found that soil conditions and climate can have a profound effect on a garlic's flavor and heat.

So, for the uninitiated, we've compiled a list of nine of the most popular garlics available today, along with some of their key characteristics.

Silverskin—Mild French

A resilient cultivar even in hotter climates, Mild French was originally grown in Central Texas. With a climate-dependent flavor, Mild French has a generally bold garlic taste with greater heat intensity the further north it's grown.


This article was produced in partnership with Be sure to check out their site for more information on their currently available 2015 heirloom garlic varieties.