Garlic heads

Garlic varieties and ID codes

Each garlic head we sell is labeled with an ID code (or the name) to help you keep track of varieties at home. The table below relates these codes to the variety and its culinary properties.

Hardneck Varieties
Robust & exciting flavors. Heads structured with cloves arranged around a stiff central stalk; cloves generally large and fairly uniform in size.
Variety ID code Approx clove count Description
Bogatyr BOGA 3-7 A good general-purpose garlic. Hot raw flavor, rich when roasted or cooked.
Brickey BRIC 8-10 A family heirloom from a market customer. Delicious sautéd, spicy hot when raw.
Georgian Crystal CRYST 5-7 A really nice roaster, sweet & rich. Intense raw flavor. Big cloves for the garlic lover.
Georgian Fire FIRE 4-6 A delight for lovers of spicy food. Adds a zing to salsa or gazpacho.
German Extra Hardy GEXH 3-6 Excellent for roasting, as the cloves produce a complex sweet flavor under high heat.
Russian Giant RUGI 4-6 Large cloves are a garlic lover’s delight. Carries some  spicy heat raw or roasted.
Samarkand SAMAR 9-11 Peppery and distinct, both sweet and hot. Medium cloves for all-purpose use.
Shvelisi SHV 10-12 A “just-right” general-purpose garlic, with moderate clove size and quantity.
Siberian SIBER 4-8 Robust and rich when cooked, an ideal garlic to feature. Our favorite.
Softneck Varieties
Classic garlic flavor. Heads structured with layers of cloves, which vary in size within a head but are generally smaller than hardnecks.
Variety ID code Approx clove count Description
Chet’s Italian Red CHET 12-18 Rich flavor when used raw; ideal for dressings and pesto.
Lorz Italian LORZ 9-16 Some zing when raw, but minimal aftertaste. A Slow Food Ark of Taste variety.
Tochliavri TOCH 10-18 Recommended for all uses. Spiciest of the softnecks. Excellent roasted, sweet & well rounded.

Advice on choosing garlic varieties:

Any garlic variety can be used in any culinary situation calling for garlic. No need to fret, for example, if you bought a variety suggested for roasting if you decide to saute; just use it! Chances are the results will be delicious.

However, matching the right garlic to the right use can yield some spectacular results. Here’s a cheat sheet of some of our favorites:

  • Favorite roasters: Georgian Crystal, Tochliavri, German Extra Hardy
  • Favorite sauteed: Siberian is a standout, but all are excellent
  • Favorite raw, if minimal aftertaste desired: any of the softnecks, but especially Chet’s Italian Red
  • Favorite raw, if spicy flavors desired (in salsa, for example): Georgian Fire, Russian Giant

Most importantly, have fun exploring the possibilities!

Tips for using garlic:

Skins should be removed from individual cloves before using; our favorite method is to lay the clove sideways on a cutting board, lay the flat of a chef’s knife on the clove, and deliver a short, sharp whack with the heel of the hand, gently crushing the clove. This loosens the skin and makes it easy to remove without deforming the clove unnecessarily. Cloves or heads to be roasted/toasted should not be skinned; the skin helps protect the clove from scorching under high heat.

– Roasting garlic produces a rich, creamy flavor excellent for sauces; we often combine the garlic with onions and root crops which also benefit from roasting.
– Raw garlic of the proper variety really enhances raw salsas & salads
– Siberian garlic makes for some amazing garlic butter; see this post for our favorite method
– Skillet-toasting garlic on a hot cast-iron pan is a good substitute for roasting, if you don’t want to turn an oven on for just a few cloves. Flip every few minutes until the skin is brown and the clove inside is soft.

While cured garlic is shelf-stable, it will eventually start to sprout over the winter/spring and lose its quality. We’ve had good results from roasting trays of garlic cloves, then mashing the pulp into(dedicated) ice-cube trays and freezing them to produce little one-use blocks. These are great for adding flavor to winter/spring soups or sauces with little work; just pop a garlic cube into the pot! Drying garlic to produce garlic powder is another option. We simply peel & slice the cloves, then dry in a food dehydrator until crisp. Dried garlic can be ground into a nice homemade garlic powder.


Garlic is a long-season crop, planted in late fall and harvested the following summer. We grow about a dozen varieties that fall into two main categories: softneck and hardneck. As a rough overview, softnecks tend to be milder in flavor and contain more cloves (~10-15) as compared to hardnecks, which tend to be stronger and contain fewer and often larger cloves (~3-10). Garlic heads are harvested here in June, and can be used fresh (green garlic) or hung to dry (cured) to produce shelf-stable cured garlic.

Fresh green garlic (available only in early summer) should be refrigerated and used within a week or two. Cured garlic is shelf-stable at room temperature and can simply be kept in a basket or bowl in your kitchen. Refrigeration changes the flavor and isn’t advised. If you notice that the garlic is starting to sprout, just use it soon. Even the best-storing varieties tend to begin sprouting by early spring; this is the plant’s natural attempt to produce the next generation of heads. Some grocery store garlic gets treated with chemical sprout-inhibitors to prevent this, but, of course, our garlic does not.