Garlic is probably our favorite crop, at least for Matt. Why? It is one of the most fun crops to grow. There are MANY very subtle taste differences within the garlic family, yet they are all garlic. Hot, Spicy, Mild, Lots of Heat, Little Heat, Lingering Garlic taste to no after taste.
Hardneck garlic is what we currently grow. Hardnecks have an almost pencil hard stalk around which the cloves grow. This hard stalk is literally almost like wood.
Softnecks are another type of garlic but they tend to have smaller cloves, more of them and less flavor options. They are usually the only option you will find in a grocery store. Hardnecks are where the fun is, at least in my opinion. From the downright HUGE cloves of Music to the spicy salsa hot variety of Georgian Fire, to being much easier to peel you will not be able to resist putting garlic somewhere on your dinner plate once you try the varieties.
Lasagna, Pico Del Gaio, Soup, even home made tomato sauce ALL greatly benefit from a little or a lot of garlic. You can mince it with a garlic press, slice it, dice it, dehydrate it and yet it still has that same wonderful taste.
In the spring, usually late June, hadneck garlic sends up a green stem from the center stalk called a scape. One the end of the scape a little bulbet will form with tiny little garlic cloves inside, if you let it grow that long. These could be planted the following year, but it takes 3-4 years for a bulbet to size up to a full size garlic bulb, so farmers will tend just save about 20% of their crop and replant the larges bulbs/cloves. This means we get to EAT the scapes. Once the scape starts to make a semi circle, it is ready to be harvested. Removing the scape makes the plant focus it’s energy on increasing the size of the bulb.
If you have ever used chives on your potatoes or other dishes, you will LOVE garlic scapes. They are similar in texture and used in the same way as chives, only they have a very mild garlic flavor. We love to use them on loaded nachos, tacos, roasts, etc. Anywhere you would like a mild garlic flavor.
Garlic also has many excellent health benefits:
- Garlic is a powerful anti-oxidant
- Kills germs that cause colds and infections
- May prevent the development and progression of cancer
- Treats skin and muscular injuries
- Lowers cholesterol
- Prevents high blood pressure
- Prevents blood clots
- Increases overall resistance to disease and immunity
- Recent studies show it can even help renew brain cells!
One thing we struggled with when we first started using more fresh garlic was finding a good garlic press. MANY are sold in the local stores, but few are very good. We finally found the Kuhn Rikon Epicurean Garlic Press. It is by far the very best press you will get for your money. 18/10 Stainless Steel with NO plastic to break and NO enamel to flake off in your food. It is a little pricey, but once you use it that sticker shock will turn into smiles. If you become passionate about garlic, like we are, then do yourself a favor and buy ONE garlic press that will last you pretty much the rest of your life. End sales pitch non-food item. Ha Ha.