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Old June 27, 2018   #46
PureHarvest
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Not mass production, but bigger than a hobby.
And don’t get me wrong, I want good taste. I want to continue getting great feedback from customers.
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Old June 27, 2018   #47
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Then you need to try Ail de la Drome garlic (Therador, Provence wight, many more). Big stalks, big bulbs with quite big cloves, very winter hardy. Forget about hardnecks if you want mass production. In good conditions you can get to 200g (not cured). It's what I would call standard taste.
It is interesting to hear about European varieties but I believe they are difficult or impossible to find in North America. The exception is a few varieties that produce bulbils, available on eBay. I think the import restrictions on bulbs, especially for seed, would make it very costly.

I don't know if PH's area is the same, but we found the market for local softneck to be quite weak compared to hardneck. Likely because the supermarkets are still flooded with cheap softneck from China, and this is what folks have been eating when local is not available, paying less than a dollar a bulb. The hardnecks stand out as different because of the large easy peeling cloves, and the market for those is great even at 3X the price.
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Old June 27, 2018   #48
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Yes, I noticed the worship status of hardneck before. Here in Europe it's not like this, you can find commercially both (in cheap prices I mean). Maybe I'd have to live in France to see what they say about it, but I imagine, since at least two protected_names (Ail de la Drome and Ail de Cadours) are softneck, they don't care either.
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Old June 27, 2018   #49
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Yeah I do appreciate the virtue of softnecks - very nice to have a braid of garlic that will last until next season. Where I live, garlic was not a traditional crop, and all of the imported garlic in stores was softneck. So people are quite excited to try the hardneck which they never had before. And I really love the hardnecks we're growing now, I definitely like them better than the usual softnecks. We grew some New York White for a few years but it did so poorly last year I didn't replant it. However I'm excited to have some Germidour growing from bulbils (thanks Sari!) so I will see if this is a better softneck for our harsh climate. Naturally, it's best to have both!
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Old June 27, 2018   #50
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I did do a search earlier this morning and could not find those varieties for sale.
I also had the same thoughts about the softnecks looking too much like the chinese/california white in the stores.

Probably unlike Europe, Americans buy with their eyes. Bower, you are right when you say the Hardnecks stand out vs Softneck. Plus the the colors we can get in the wrappers and skins really amplify this.

The flavor nuance aspect is kinda like wine. All the "hints" and "notes" of this and that are overkill for most consumers. They just want the wine to taste "good" to them and enjoy it. I feel like garlic follows this.
Tomatoes too. I can grow heirlooms for their subtle flavor differences, but at the end of the day, that market is small compared to the masses that want a red round slicer that tastes good. The hybrid is easier for me and they are happy. I might not win a taste competition, but that is not my goal or what pays the bills. Kinda my approach with garlic too.
A good friend has a saying I keep in mind: Feed the rich and eat with the masses. Feed the masses, and you eat with the rich. -Basically, you may win prestige and honor by impressing the well to do by marketing a product that caters to their pallet, but there are not enough of them (at least where I am) to sustain you financially.
I learned this doing pastured poultry. The high end customer loved and paid for our product (at $5.49/lb vs .99-1.99 for commercial whole birds). They swore our birds were the best ever for so many reasons flavor and ideology-wise. However, they were just a niche market here, and not a viable market financially (not to mention the tremendous efforts we had to go through to produce that product). The recognition and accolades we got from them and the local restaurant scene was constant but almost irrelevant at the end of the day.

And I must say, I do not feel like I am condescending the average consumer. They just want a quality, good tasting garlic (or tomato) that was grown locally without chemicals, and I provide that. No reason to complicate it from there.

I think many growers (including me in the past) get caught up in too much ideology or put pressure on themselves to be a purist or shoot for an overly-lofty product profile. You start off thinking what you would want to buy if you were the consumer. That is kinda irrelevant.

It comes down to personal use vs. hobby grower vs. a business.

By all means, some people have niche or high end markets and they are both sustained. However, I am just going for the market where your average consumer can enjoy a local and really good product at a price they can afford. Although, I think even the high-end chefs in my area would be very satisfied with my garlic if I were selling to them, but then I wouldn't be able to move the volume I want.

Last edited by PureHarvest; June 27, 2018 at 10:56 AM.
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Old June 27, 2018   #51
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However I'm excited to have some Germidour growing from bulbils (thanks Sari!) so I will see if this is a better softneck for our harsh climate. Naturally, it's best to have both!
Germidour is certainly an eye catcher, beautiful strongly violet streaks in the wrappers, big cloves. Lucky you managed to get your hands on some bulbils, considering they should be softneck. Strange that no one started distributing these in the usa.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eafs2gdU5U
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Old June 27, 2018   #52
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I have only tasted maybe half dozen varieties of garlic, but so far I would say the flavor nuances are far more subtle than the differences in tomatoes. Spanish Roja is distinct enough that you could distinguish in a blind taste test from other garlics if tasted alone... however once you put it into a salad dressing or other dish with many ingredients, the subtle differences are less clear and likely go unnoticed unless you are really looking for it.

What is really notable among different hardnecks, for me, is that Music and similar porcelains retain their flavor in cooking, which makes them a really all purpose favorite. SR for example you would have to use special techniques such as adding very late in the cooking process, or lose the taste altogether. That is fine for a special dish, if you know what you have to do. And maybe SR makes a great garlic powder with distinct flavor - something I'll likely try this year. Still the raw product is more suitable for chefs, 'foodies' like us, or for a business plan with special purposes like garlic powder production, afaict.

So for me as well as any other 'average consumer' you can't go wrong with the porcelains, as the easiest product to use with satisfaction, no matter what dish you're making cooked or raw. I might add others to that category too, which I'm growing up but haven't had enough to eat more than a clove or two, so haven't tried cooking with them yet.
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Old June 27, 2018   #53
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Germidour is certainly an eye catcher, beautiful strongly violet streaks in the wrappers, big cloves. Lucky you managed to get your hands on some bulbils, considering they should be softneck. Strange that no one started distributing these in the usa.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eafs2gdU5U
So Germidour is a type of the 'ail violette de Cadours'? They are beautiful! Yes it is fantastic luck for me, they don't normally produce bulbils at all.
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Old June 27, 2018   #54
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Garlic flavor nuances may be important or those that eat raw garlic and have developed their palate, but in cooking the differences get muted or lost. I have been to raw garlic tastings and after a couple of tastes my palate is on fire and useless. My wife and I consume a lot of garlic, like 300+ bulbs/year in canned sauces, cooking, and powder, so I go for large bulbs with large easy to peel cloves and good storage properties. My main crop is Music, followed by Russian Red and Estonian Red.

The taste and texture differences in tomatoes are much greater, although tastings with many varieties can still overwhelm my palate. Less than 10% of my tomatoes are eaten fresh and I grow Brandywine Sudduth for that purpose. The rest are canned, so I grow hearts and pastes with very few blemishes and imperfections to maximize yield into the pot. Once cooked with onions, peppers, garlic and herbs the tomato flavor nuances disappear.

Now wine is another story and I have developed my palate over the past 40 years for fine wines. For foods in general I prefer intensely flavorful dishes with varied textures that elicit moans with every bite. Life is too short to compromise on sensory pleasures!
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Old June 27, 2018   #55
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"..moans with every bite.." I'm down with that. There's no better compliment to the cook, than a dinner table full of guests softly moaning...
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Old June 27, 2018   #56
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It has been really enjoyable to follow PH's ingenuity in the process of finding the most suitable ways to become serious garlic farmer. My garlic growing is just for a hobby, but I have learned a lot of the methods by reading this and the earlier thread.

Growing garlic in small farm scale is becoming more popular also here, when vegetable farmers are finding new crops to sell at the local farmers' markets. Many people are nowadays ready to pay a bit more for locally grown fresh produce, which hopefully is good also for the farmers. Most farmers here are planting hardnecks, because of our cold winters. I know some people who have been growing spring planted softnecks to sell, but since the harvest of those will be later, drying and curing will be more difficult. I myself like cooking with hardnecks more because of the larger cloves, but I am not sure if the average consumer here knows that there is a difference between types of garlic.

Climate in France is well suited for softnecks, but they do like also hardneck varieties like Ail rose de Lautrec. Some people even say that it is the best tasting garlic grown in France. I planted 40 Pink Lautrec cloves last fall and 30 of those came up this spring, so it is not really hardy. This year I should have enough harvest to taste it and decide, if I will keep growing it regardless of the poor hardiness. I have way too many varieties in my collection, so I should stop growing the ones which do not well here.

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Old June 27, 2018   #57
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Thanks Sari, you're too kind.

I think people here in my neck of the woods, for the majority, don't know there are different types like hardneck and softneck.

Has anyone tasted a Turban type? I am interested to try a bed's worth next year to see how it grows. I would be after the earliness aspect. It would be nice to get garlic to market in June, as the CSA I am supplying is 1/2 over by early July.
However, I read somewhere that the taste was too mild.
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Old June 27, 2018   #58
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Hello PH. I have been growing two unnamed turbans for about 8 years now and they are good for eating raw, crushed in salad dressing but when cooked, have a very mild flavour. The ones I grow are very hot raw and ready to harvest up to six weeks before the hardnecks. One has the loveliest purple striped clove skins and both form good sized bulbs, 2 1/2 to 3" diameter so despite their short storage, I keep growing them. They are good for fermenting, making black garlic etc because the cloves are relatively large and easy to peel and the rest get crushed and dehydrated before they sprout. Worth growing to have early garlic for your CSA customers imho
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Old June 27, 2018   #59
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Thanks for the info Megan.
Would you say they are at least equal to or better than the Chinese/California white softnecks in the grocery store?
Where did you get your original seed cloves?
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Old June 28, 2018   #60
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Kettle River Giant is an outstanding softneck for size and keeping. It does well out here on the west coast, don't know how it would perform where you are.
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