Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Garlic

We had a nice garlic harvest this year.  As the land improves the heads get bigger.  I am growing quite a lot of stiff neck garlic.  I will be adding elephant this year,  it is the mildest garlic of all.   I pulled all of the garlic when the 2 sets of bottom leaves dried.  I took the time to clean it when it was pulled.  It was bunched and hung to dry.  I go through the garlic and choose the largest heads to plant in the fall.  I store these until around the first of October.  I try to get the garlic in by the 2nd week of October.  It has time to start growing and get established before the rough winter sets in Central Virginia.



I am going to order at least one new kind of garlic to add to the crops this year.  I do this every few years.  I may pick some up at the grocery store if I see some soft neck.  I like to braid my garlic and love to grow the soft neck as it is much easier to braid.  I cut all of the roots off the garlic as soon as they have dried.

After selecting the sets for next year, I will dehydrate quite a lot of my crop.  I thinly slice and place in the dehydrator until it is dry.  Store in a jar and as I need garlic powder it is ground in a coffee grinder.  I do not grind a large amount as it stays fresher if you do small amounts.   The dried slices will be good until the next crop comes in.  I use the slices in a lot of things I cook.

The heads will be stored in a dry, cool, dark place and used throughout the winter.  I roast the heads, we squeeze the cloves into lots of things, potatoes, rice and grits.  Roasted garlic and hot bread are a marriage we enjoy.    I did locate a recipe, just the other day, for canning garlic.  At this time I have not tried this recipe;  however, this is on my to do list.  I will post a comment when I give this a try.  If any of you should try this I would enjoy hearing from you.

The garlic cloves are used in many ways.  I am always making dressings with them.  I like to have  extra virgin olive oil with garlic and a few herbs mixed together.  This is wonderful on bread, salads, pasta and a lot of your cooked vegetables can be dressed with this oil and a bit of cheese to add another layer of flavor.   I make this up fresh when I am going to use one of these mixtures.

If you have garlic breath you can always add some fresh parsley to the herb mix and that takes away the garlic smell.

Plant garlic in your garden, it does well in containers (will need to be fed more), also.  I feed my garlic sets in January and March, keep the weeds pulled, begin harvesting green garlic in the spring.  The stiff neck garlic will have scapes, a real treat and then the cycle begins as we harvest the garlic.

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