Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Guess I'll have to pick up the spring vegetables next year. Since I'm so far behind, maybe I'll just write about something that isn't even on my list, Garlic.
Last week I harvested garlic. I don't know many people who grow garlic, but it is one of my favorite things to grow. It is so easy to grow and store. And garlic just tastes good!
Garlic is grown from garlic bulbs. The bulbs are separated into individual cloves and planted in September or October in my climate. This gives the garlic a few weeks to root before cold weather hits. In the spring, they will be the first thing out of the ground. Garlic can be planted in the spring but the bulbs will be smaller.
I bought my first garlic online but now save some every year to plant. After my initial investment (quite minimal) I have not had to purchase any more garlic.Every year I increased that amount I plant and this year I should have enough to last all winter.
In my area, garlic is normally harvested around July 4th. You can dig some earlier and use like an onion. It will taste like mild garlic. But it won't be separated into individual cloves until July. If you wait too long, the cloves will split the bulb. Varieties vary so check yours every week.
I thought my garlic wasn't ready this year on the 4th and waited another week. But when I pulled it, I found some of the garlic had started to get a little soft and was infected with onion maggots. Yuck. The good hard heads I dried and hung in our woodshed. But the soft heads I cleaned, threw out the bad cloves, and minced the good. I had a small bucket full of garlic and the job took me all afternoon. I ended up with three pints of minced garlic. If you've never done that much garlic, you will have no idea how much garlic one pint holds. That is a LOT of garlic. While garlic doesn't appear to burn your eyes like onions, I discovered that with long exposure to garlic, my hands started to burn. They smelled like garlic for an entire week!
The good part is, I should have enough minced garlic for using in spaghetti sauce and other meals for the rest of the winter. All my work was done in one afternoon!
I used an oil preserving method that pours in some vinegar to add acidity and then covered with olive oil. The garlic I preserved that way last year stayed fresh tasting in the fridge all winter. Just adding a spoon full to a pot of soup flavored the whole pot. Wonderful!
I find that though I have a few recipes that call for garlic, many don't. But nearly any recipe that calls for an onion will be enhanced with garlic too. I'm in the habit of adding a little garlic anytime I use onion. We love it! Someday, if I really have a lot of garlic, I'd like to try drying and blending it to make my own garlic powder. There is sometimes when I prefer garlic powder, such as dusting a homemade cracker.
Links to other places I've talked about garlic
Planting garlic and where to buy garlic for planting
Preserving Garlic in Oil
Do you grow garlic? How do you use it?