Porcelain garlics may be the most beautiful garlics of all, and sometimes seem too beautiful to eat. Their bulb wrappers are thick, luxuriant and parchment-like, and tightly cover their few, but very large, cloves. The outer bulb wrappers are often very white to milky and light tan. There are no smaller cloves as most cloves are large (four to six per bulb), fat and juicy, which makes them a great favorite with foodies.
Great Eating Garlic
Porcelains tend to be very richly flavored with an earthy muskiness. Most varieties are fairly hot, strong tasting garlics with a few exceptions like Music.
Great Storing Garlic
Porcelain garlics store longer than most other hardneck garlics, and are often useable through March when stored properly.
Most Healthful Garlic
Porcelains are the densest of all garlics and weigh more per unit of volume than the other kinds. Research has shown that porcelains are superior medicinal garlics, especially the hotter varieties. There are lots of reasons to want to grow your own Porcelain garlics, especially if you like hot, strong, pungent flavors.
Great Growing Garlic
Porcelains are very hardy garlic and will grow well in most of the USA, but get larger the further north they are grown. Even so, they also do well in most areas of the south, although they are "iffy" in Florida and South Texas and the warmer winter parts of California.
Porcelain garlics are also unique in that the scapes they produce in the spring coil in all kinds of ways and resemble a bed of snakes before straightening up and becoming vertical. Porcelains tend to have few but large cloves, and this has limitations in that a large clove may be more than you want to use and sometimes a smaller clove might be preferred. Also, you have to save back a larger percentage of your total crop for planting stock the following year than you do with other varieties. For those just starting to grow their own garlic, it takes a year or two longer to grow all you can eat. Porcelains harvest late in the season and are usually over 2.5" in diameter, but 3" bulbs are not unusual.
Rocambole garlics tend to have thinner bulb wrappers than other hardnecks with lots of purple or pink striping and splotches. They are not as white as other hardnecks and have a brownish cast to their cloves. Some varieties almost look as though they need a bath! What they lack in conventional garlic beauty, they make up for in taste. Rocamboles often have sharp, vivid colors that alert us to their strong, rich and deep flavor. Many people consider them their favorite garlics because of their very rich, intense taste.
In the spring, Rocamboles send up a scape that forms a complete double loop — they're the only garlics that do a double loop. They have usually eight to ten cloves arranged in circular fashion about a central scape and have few or no smaller internal cloves.
Great Cold-Climate Growing Garlic
Rocambole garlics do not grow well in warmer climates. They require a colder winter and a cooler spring than most other garlics.
Shorter Storing Garlic
The primary drawback of Rocamboles, other than being a little fussy about growing conditions, is that they are amongst the shortest storing garlics of all; storing for only 5-6 months from harvest and seldom storing beyond New Years Day.
Great Preserving Garlic
Rocamboles are excellent for slicing and dehydrating, and will store for years once dehydrated and kept dry. Dehydrated slices can be ground into an excellent garlic powder that is so good, you won't ever want to buy grocery store garlic powder again! Another way to preserve them is to pickle them as they make fabulous pickled garlic that gets better every year for about five years. Lastly, they are also great for turning into delicious, sticky, sweet black garlic.
Great Spicy Garlic
Even though Rocamboles are more particular about growing conditions and have a shorter storage life than some other varieties, they more than make up for any of their shortcomings with their flavor. It truly must be experienced to be believed! The firey depth is remarkable, and Rocamboles generally have an earthy muskiness about them that no other varieties have. Rocamboles are said to have "true" garlic flavor that set the bar high for other varieties.
Purple Stripe garlics are usually vividly colored with purple, vertical stripes decorating the thick bulb wrappers. Between the purple stripes, the wrappers are usually bright white. Coloration is affected by growing conditions, particularly weather, so sometimes they are strongly colored and other times they're more white than purple. Genetic analysis has shown that Purple Stripe garlic is the original, heirloom variety that all other varieties are derived from.
Beautiful Looking Garlic
Purple Stripes tend to be very beautiful, and some are almost solid purple. All Purple Stripe garlics have extremely long clove cover tips that can reach 3" or more up the scape, and can be very helpful in identifying Purple Stripes from other garlics.
Unbeatable Roasting Garlic
The Purple Stripe variety of garlic tends to be rather rich and sweet in flavor, and not overly hot. They definitely make the sweetest roasting garlics of all too. Some varieties like are so sweet when roasted, they can be added to vanilla ice cream to create the texture and taste of butter brickle!
Consistent Growing Garlic
Purple Stripe garlics grow consistently well in most of the USA and tend to mature about midway through the local harvest season. The marbled Purple Stripes like Metechi and Siberian seem to be more resistant to damage by early hot weather than most other kinds.