Seed Garlic vs Culinary Garlic

The Difference Between Seed and Culinary Garlic

Freshly harvested purple garlic bulbs

There is really only one thing that separates seed garlic and culinary garlic – size. The flavor and growing habits for these two types of garlic are identical.

Garlic farmers grow select varieties and at harvest time make the determination as to what qualifies as seed vs culinary garlic. The biggest heads produce larger cloves; these are ideal for planting next year's crop. They qualify as seed garlic. The remaining garlic crop is used for culinary purposes.

Garlic Bulb Size

Our seed bulbs measure 2-2.25” across or more. The typical grocery store garlic measures about 1.5" across. 

Other sellers often fail to note what size bulbs they deliver, as if this doesn't matter. Really? (Sad discovery - the biggest garlic wholesaler in the country sells culinary size bulbs as "seed". We were shocked to see these runts in a local garden center.)

Be smart - know what you're getting.

Image of tool used to size garlic bulbs

Seed garlic is the cream of the crop and is a bit more expensive.  Rest assured that a dollar or two more up front for quality seed can translate to a world of difference in growing results.

How are sizes determined? There are two simple methods; either using a wooden board with drilled holes that determine size (left) or incremental markings along the edge of a table against which each bulb is measured.

Fresh Seed Garlic

If you love garlic (who doesn't?) don't settle for grocery store bulbs. These are bred mostly for long shelf life, not rich, complex, zippy flavor. . . much like market store tomatoes in winter; all about holding ability, not taste. The white skinned produce-department garlic bulbs last, but pale when it comes to deliciousness.

Instead, grow your own garlic. Not much space is needed, you'll know exactly how the plants were grown (organically or conventionally) and can savor taste bud-tingling freshness. And have you ever gifted a home grown garlic bulb, with its colorful papery wrappers, tantalizing aroma and a bright ribbon encircling the stem? Guaranteed to delight!

Garlic plants in the garden

Where Our Garlic Comes From

To make sure you get great garlic, and your money's worth, we partner with Northwest growers that produces some of the most beautiful garlic heads found anywhere.

The farm is a small, family affair. The land and farming practices have earn certification as Naturally Grown and are in the process of becoming organically certified. (It can be a long, hoop-filled process.) These farmers are warm hearted, hard working souls with a huge community spirit - just the type of folks you'd want to know and support. Their goal for the farm is to raise food and funds to support their community's hungry. In 2018, they donated 4,700+ lbs of food and 568 dozen eggs to their local food bank. Wow! 

On those days when we succumb to the belief that one person, a couple, or a small group can't really do anything meaningful, we think of these folks. And know that everything one chooses to do . . . ultimately matters.

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