What IS Hardneck Garlic?

Want to know a bit more about Minnesota Hardneck Gourmet Garlic?  

Two different Cultivators: Hardneck vs Softneck

Our garlic is Hardneck garlic, while most garlic you find in the grocery store that is grown in California or China is Softneck garlic.  Hardnecks have long flowering stems, called scapes, which are delicious when cut in June.  Of course, Hardnecks thrive in more severe climates, like here in lovely Minnesota!

The more interesting difference is in the taste.  Hardneck garlic has a richer and more flavorful (more 'garlicky') flavor than softnecks. They also have much larger cloves, so fewer are needed when cooking. Hardnecks are closer to the original heirloom strains of garlic. 

Best yet, hardneck garlic is healthier for you! Allicin is a sulfur compound that is found in Garlic and responsible for many of its health benefits including anti-bacterial, anti-virus, anti-fungal, anti-cancer, anti-microbial, and antioxidant effects.  Hardneck garlic contains 3x more allicin than softneck varieties. 

Groups and Varieties of Hardneck

There are three different groups of Hardneck cultivators: Rocambole, Purple Stripe, and Porcelain.  

Rocambole varieties have thinner outer skin so they do not store as long and are often the strongest flavored.  

Porcelain varieties have thicker, tougher skin making them a better choice for longer storage.  They tend to have the largest and fewest cloves per bulb and very full-flavored. 

German White: bold garlic flavor that's not too spicy with sweeter accents and lingering heat.  Great for pestos, sauces, roasts. 

German Extra Hardy:  rich, strong classic garlic flavor.  Great in just about any dish, but especially in soups, pastas, and stews. 

Purple Stripe varieties are named for their beautiful purple coloring.

Persian Star.  full garlic flavor with mild spice with touch of sweet.  Excellent choice for raw consumption but also holds its own as a baking garlic. Great choice for whole clove roasting. 



  • Sarah

    Hi Caleb! Thanks for commenting! Yes, gourmet has much to do with the culinary aspect because each variety (and there are SO many!) have varying tastes and it gets to be very fun for the real chefs out there. For folks who don’t cook a ton with garlic it may be hard to tell the difference unless you do a different variety two nights in a row- then you definitely will! I have not heard of Runnings, but I would say that if you purchase garlic seed from a local garlic farm they would DEFINITELY know what type they are growing and be able to direct you on how to grow it AND on the variety’s particulars (some hardnecks have only 4 cloves a bulb, some have 8, some are spicy, some are mild, some last foooorever in storage, some are shorter lived, etc). Happy to answer any other questions you have – please feel free to reach out! – Sarah

  • Caleb Huber

    So Gourmet Garlic is just a blanket term for any garlic used in cooking? Well isn’t that great, I bought seed garlic from Runnings, the package just said Garlic Gourmet and on the back had planting instructions, but that’s it, didn’t say what garlic it actually was not too mention it didn’t say it was hard neck or soft neck. I ended up with soft neck. Thanks for the article though, it cleared some things for me.

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