Difference Between Hardneck Garlic and Softneck Garlic

Main Difference

The main difference between hardneck garlic and softneck garlic is that the hardneck garlic has a firm stem whereas softneck garlic has a soft stalk that grows from the center of the bulb.

Hardneck Garlic vs. Softneck Garlic

Garlic is a kitchen staple for ages with its distinct smell and a strong flavor. The two main kinds of garlic are hardneck garlic and softneck garlic. The “neck” of garlic is the stem or flowering stalk growing through the center of garlic bulb.

Hardneck garlic scientifically known as Allium sativum ssp. ophioscorodon is also called top-setting garlic. It is named such because it has a hard neck. The hard stalk of hardneck garlic makes it impossible for the harvesters to braid it. Softneck garlic scientifically known as Allium sativum ssp. sativum is also called artichoke garlic. Its stalk is very soft, which makes it easy to cut and braid.

Hardneck garlic needs a cold environment to develop fully. Mainly, it is suitable for growing in regions where the temperature of winter is cold for a longer duration. Softneck garlic is suitable to grow in the regions of mild winter temperatures. It needs little to no winter cold for its best development.

A hardneck bulb is regular in shape. It holds less number of bigger cloves. The bulbs of softneck garlic are usually bigger. It is imperfectly shaped and contains more cloves.

Hardneck garlic is more comfortable to peel because it has thick skin. Softneck garlic is difficult to peel because of its thin skin. Hardneck garlic has a more spicy and powerful taste. The taste of softneck garlic is mild. The storage time of hardneck garlic is shorter than the softneck garlic. Hardneck garlic can withstand cold climates.

Comparison Chart

Hardneck GarlicSoftneck Garlic
A type of garlic which has a firm stemA kind of garlic which has a soft stem
Size of Cloves
LargerSmaller
Shelf life
ShorterLonger
Stalk/Stem
FirmSoft
Number of Cloves
FewNumerous
Skin
ThinThick
Best Growth in Regions
Where winter temperature is cold for a longer periodOf mild winter temperature
Shape
RegularImperfect
Taste
Spicy, powerfulMild

What is Hardneck Garlic?

Garlic is one of the 700 species in the onion or Allium family. There are two known types of garlic. One of them is hardneck garlic that is scientifically known as Allium sativum ssp. ophioscorodon. It is also sometimes referred to as a stiff neck or top-setting garlic. Hardneck garlic has large cloves that are easy to peel.

It has more intense flavor than softnecks. It is also sometimes referred to as a stiff neck or top-setting garlic. Hardneck garlic has large cloves that are easy to peel. It has more intense flavor than softnecks. The “neck” of garlic refers to the stem or flowering stalk growing through the center of the bulb. As its name reveals, this type of garlic has a hard neck. This hard stalk of hardneck garlic makes it impossible for the harvesters to braid it.

The easy-to-peel and loose skin feature of hardneck garlic lessen its shelf life to only around four to five months. Hardneck garlic sends out a flowering stem, or scape, that turns woody. Hardneck garlic develops fully in cold climates.

It is suitable for growing in regions where the temperature of winter is cold for a longer duration. A hardneck bulb is regular in shape. It holds less number of bigger cloves. The taste of hardneck garlic is more powerful and spicy.

Main Types

  • Purple stripe. Hardiest, best for gardeners living in the northeastern Canada and U.S.
  • Satiny white, about four cloves per bulb, best for gardeners living in mild climates
  • Tan or brownish, 12 cloves per bulb, hardiest

Subtypes

Asiatic, glazed purple stripe, creole, Middle Eastern, marbled purple stripe, and turban.

What is Softneck Garlic?

Garlic is a kitchen staple for ages with its distinct smell and a strong flavor. Softneck garlic is scientifically known as Allium sativum ssp. Sativum. It is one of the main types of garlic. The “neck” of hardneck garlic is its stem or flowering stalk which grows through the center of its bulb. Softneck garlic is also known as artichoke garlic.

Its stalk is very soft, which makes it easy to cut and braid. The varieties of softneck garlic do not develop a flowering stalk or scape. Softneck garlic is suitable to grow in the regions of mild winter temperatures. It needs little to no winter cold for its best development. It is best for warmer climates.

Softneck garlic varieties store very well and have a long shelf life, so they are the ideal fit for mass production. Under the perfect storage conditions, the heads of softneck garlic last for nine to twelve months.

The taste of softneck garlic is mild. Due to its mild flavor, softneck garlic is commonly used for processed products such as seasonings. Softnecks have many cloves in each of its heads, not only a single row.

The cloves are not regular in their shape. Some of the cloves are large, while others are small. Upon maturity, one bulb of softneck garlic can hold up to twenty cloves. Softneck garlic has thin and tight skin around each clove that are difficult to peel.

Types of Softneck

  • Blanco Piacenza
  • California Early and Late Whites
  • Corsican Red
  • Inchelium Red
  • Silver Rose
  • Silver White
  • French Red

Key Differences

  1. Hardneck garlic is a type of garlic that has a firm stem whereas softneck garlic is a type of garlic with a soft stalk that grows from the center of the bulb.
  2. Hardneck garlic is very easy to peel because it has thick skin contrarily softneck garlic is difficult to peel because of its thin skin.
  3. The firm stalk of hardneck garlic makes it impossible for harvesters to braid it; on the other hand, the soft stalk of softneck garlic makes it easy to cut and braid.
  4. Hardneck garlic needs a cold environment to develop fully. Mainly, it is suitable for growing in regions where the temperature of winter is cold for a longer duration while softneck garlic is suitable to grow in the regions of mild winter temperatures. It needs little to no winter cold for its best development.
  5. The cloves in the bulb of hardneck garlic are larger, and few on the flip side the cloves in the bulb of softneck garlic are smaller and numerous.
  6. A hardneck bulb is regular in shape, but a softneck garlic is usually bigger and imperfectly shaped.
  7. Hardneck garlic stores for a short duration conversely softneck garlic stores for a longer period.
  8. Hardneck garlic has a more spicy and powerful taste inversely softneck garlic has a mild taste.
  9. Hardneck garlic can withstand cold climates on the contrary softneck garlic grows well in mild and warm climates.

Conclusion

Hardneck garlic and softneck garlic are the two main kinds of garlic that are different from each other based on their size, taste, number of cloves, and skin, etc.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson

View all posts by Aimie Carlson