Eat More Garlic

Red Grain-Purple Stripe, hardnceck

Red Grain -Purple Strip, Hardneck


Eat More Garlic 

 

With spring approaching quickly it’s time to start planning our summer gardens. With all the health benefits of garlic why not save a bit more space to plant garlic this fall ?

Garlic is one of the healthiest foods we can eat.  Garlic is bursting with vitamins and nutrients including protein, potassium, Vitamins A, B, B2 and C, Calcium, Zinc and many others, which all aid health and wellness. But garlic’s most notorious compound is allicin which is most prevalent in crushed, raw garlic.

The following article reveals the benefits of eating raw garlic in regards to preventing colon and colorectal cancer:

Research has shown that women who regularly ate garlic (along with fruits and vegetables) had a 35 percent lower risk of colon cancer. Another study also found that those who consume high amounts of raw garlic have a lower risk of stomach and colorectal cancers.

When you add raw garlic in your diet, the fresh clove must be crushed or chopped in order to stimulate the release of an enzyme called alliinase, which in turn catalyzes the formation of allicin.

Allicin, in turn, rapidly breaks down to form a number of different organosulfur compounds. So to “activate” garlic’s medicinal properties, compress a fresh clove with a spoon prior to swallowing it, chop it finely to add to a salad, or put it through your juicer to add to your vegetable juice.

To read the full article please click on this link: Dr.Mercola

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Harvesting Garlic: Are We There Yet?

garlic_harvest_drying_the_garlicFor those who love to grow garlic and for those who just love to eat it, harvest time can feel like the unique torture of an overlong summertime road trip. From the back of the station wagon, cries fill the air: “Are we there yet?” and “When are we going to get there?” These cries are often accompanied by calls like “I’m hungry!” and “I have to pee,” but for the purposes of this post we will stick to timing. Are we there yet? When is the best time to harvest garlic?!

It’s a big question. Garlic essentially has three harvests: in the spring you can cut greens to use as scallions; in early summer, we harvest garlic scapes; late summer (right now!) is the main harvest—the garlic bulbs.

Timing is everything. Wait too long, and your garlic will be overripe, its heads will not keep together, and it will not store well. Harvest too soon, the bulbs will be small, the wrapper may disintegrate, and your heads will not have had time to form properly—they will be usable and probably delicious, but you’ll enjoy greater rewards if you give them time for a bigger harvest of bigger bulbs.

The secret to perfect timing is in the leaves. Our rule of thumb is when the lower half of the eight or nine leaves on the plant turn yellow, it’s time to harvest! As with most root vegetables, you wont know for sure if the time is exactly right until you dig one up. It’s always a good idea to pull some bulbs to check and see how far along they are. If the bulb is full and of good size it’s ready to pull.

It is important to let the soil dry out a bit before harvesting. If it’s too wet, the garlic will not dry as well or as evenly as it should. A dry harvest will store longer and will not mold.  We stop watering two weeks before we plan to harvest in order to start the drying process in the ground.

After digging up the plant, we brush off as much soil as possible, and then put the bulbs in a warm, dry place to cure. To maximize space and save time, here at Green Mountain Garlic we cut off most of the stalks and the roots right away and place the bulbs on screens for drying. Traditionally 6-8 plants are tied together and hung to dry.

Make sure your harvested garlic gets great air circulation! Don’t store them in a damp basement or root cellar. You’ve waited this long – store your bulbs well and you’ll be able to savor them for as long as possible. Softneck garlic, our longest storing garlic, will last up to 12 months if hung in a dry place. And Garlic braids are a beautiful way to keep (and show off) your harvest.

The garlic looks amazing this year! We started with twelve varieties, including Chesnok Red, Georgian Crystal Garlic, German Extra Hardy, Italian Red, Music, and Silver White. Our customers have been clamoring for them—we’ve already sold out of a few varieties.

Come visit our organic garlic farm at Twilight Farm on Kneeland Flats Road in Waterbury, Vermont. You can choose your favorite varieties of seed or food garlic to take home. We’re open 9-6 every day through October.

Handful_of_garlic

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Cook up some garlic scapes and escape the culinary ordinary!

Green_Mountain_Garlic_Scapes_SummerThe garlic scapes are up, and we have started picking! They are so good this year, we just want to sing about them!

Garlic scapes are the stalks that grow from the bulbs of hardneck garlic plants. Once the scapes are long enough to make a cute loop like a pig’s tail, they get picked. We pick them in order to help send more of the plant’s energy into growing a big bulb. Farmers used to throw them into the compost, but now they have become a culinary treat.

Certainly Garlic Scapes look amazing in a fresh bouquet of flowers. Their long curlicue tendrils can make even dandelions look like art. But put them on your plate and they’ll blow your mind. And they contain only 30 calories per 100 grams!

The wonderful, health-boosting properties of garlic scapes include:

  • Reoxygenation of the blood – scientific studies show that regular garlic consumption increases baseline arterial oxygen levels
  • Protection against osteoarthritis – the micronutrients found in garlic have been shown to repress enzymes linked with osteoarthritis
  • High in antioxidants – garlic consumption boosts overall antioxidant levels in the body
  • Cancer-fightering diallyl sulphide, garlic’s super power organosulfur compound
  • Promotes liver and kidney health
  • Vampire (and mosquito) deterrent

A Garlic scape pesto is a very popular and delicious use for scapes: just add them to the greens in your favorite pesto recipe! Here is a recipe adapted from New York Times (http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1015301-garlic-scape-pesto):

 

  • 1 cup garlic scapes, chopped (10 to 12 scapes)
  • ¼ cup raw seeds: sunflower, pine nuts, almonds
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese (omit or substitute with nutritional yeast for a vegan version)
  • ½ cup basil leaves
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Salt and pepper to your taste (sprinkle in a few hot pepper flakes for an extra kick)

Blend all ingredients in a food processor, pulsing between the addition of each new ingredient. Check the potency of your scapes and adjust to your taste.

 

Scapes can be used in almost any recipe that calls for garlic. They taste like garlic, but are slightly milder. And they are dramatic, green and curly! Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

– Chop them small and add them to scrambled eggs, frittatas, quiche
– Use them as aromatics
– Add them to stir-fries and fried rice
– Blend them into salad dressings – Green Goddess just got a little more divine!
– Pickle them
– Mince them and mix with butter for an amazing compound butter
– Add them to soups

As you can see, the garlic scape is a versatile ingredient! One of our favorite ways to cook scapes is also the simplest:  Toss them with a bit of olive oil and then cook on the on the grill. It is a beautiful way to serve them (and a delicious way to eat them). They get caramelized and sweet!

Buy them on our website and we will ship them to you anywhere in the country. We also sell them at our farm stand, which is self-serve and open 24/7. Bon Apetit!

 

 

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Late Spring Snow: the Poor Man’s Fertilizer

Green_Mountain_Garlic_Late_Spring_SnowThe low rumbling heard throughout Vermont earlier this week was not the approach of an earthquake nor was it the roar of a low flying F-35. It was the collective groan of disbelief as most of us woke to two, three, and even four inches of snow. After such a disappointing winter, this recent dump seemed to add insult to injury. But this disappointment was not universal. A few savvy farmers whistled a happy tune, for these winners of the weather lottery know that a late spring snowfall is a boon. It’s poor man’s fertilizer!

It’s manna from heaven. Really, it’s nitrogen. To farmers, they are one and the same. Of all essential nutrients for plant growth, Nitrogen is king. The atmosphere is 78% nitrogen, which has to be “fixed” into a usable form before it can be taken up by plants. Many processes—some mysterious —are involved in the natural fixing and transforming of nitrogen.

Biological fixation is enacted by certain microbes. But atmospheric fixation is caused by the enormous energy of lightning breaking down nitrogen molecules, which enables their atoms to combine with oxygen in the air becoming nitrogen oxides, which then dissolve into rain and, earlier this week, snow. That lightning is somehow complicit in growing great garlic is a thrilling notion for garlic lovers! Mark Twain was right of course when he wrote, “Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work.”

In its fixed form (or if your prefer, dazzlingly-electrified-by-lightning form) nitrogen is a primary macronutirent that helps plant foliage grow—the garlic leaf drives photosynthesis, which feeds the garlic bulbs, which feed you! Nitrogen is also a key ingredient in both chemical and organic fertilizers (along with phosphorous and potassium). Snow is loaded with it. An inch of snow contains several milligrams of nitrogen per square foot. According to iGrow.org, “The annual level of nitrogen deposits from precipitation will range from about 5 pounds-per-acre on the Western edge of the Corn Belt to 12 pounds-per-acre in the Eastern Corn Belt.” (http://igrow.org/agronomy/corn/nitrogen-in-snow/)

And snow has the added benefit of slow release (and the recent melt was almost painfully snow after this last dump). Think of it as a slow-release fertilizer. Spring snow melt is also an important source of soil moisture, sorely needed after the lackluster snow accumulations of the last winter did not produce much of a snow pack. Snow depth and soil moisture are intricately connected. The deeper the snow, the greater potential for moisture storage in the soil. Garlic loves moist soil, that is not too wet.

So, cheer up! The snow is almost gone and the garlic will be amazing this year!

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Spring Garlic

Spring Garlic
Spring Garlic

Just about the time we run out of garlic from last year’s crop we look forward to eating spring garlic. Often called spring garlic or green garlic, it’s simply garlic that’s picked in the spring before the cloves begin to form.

Cloves can be planted close together in the fall to be used specifically as green garlic in the spring. On our farm we get our green garlic by picking “doubles” (two stems of garlic growing together). One stem is left in the ground and the other goes from “farm to table.” This vibrant, fresh garlic can be used in just about anything. Don’t be afraid to go big with these freshly picked beauties. You can use the whole stem and leaf (unless it is too woody at the top) and since its flavor is not as robust as regular garlic it will not overpower the dish. It’s great grilled, sauteed or freshly chopped for a salad.

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Growing Garlic: The Superfood Seasoning


Source: Fix.com

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When to Harvest your Garlic

Here’s a good video about when to harvest your garlic.  However, we recommend you do not leave the garlic in the field to dry, bring it in and prepare it for drying right away.

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Harvest is Happening

Red Grain Purple Stripe Garlic

We are in the process of harvesting our largest crop ever and the garlic looks terrific! These beauties are our Red Grain garlic, a purple stripe garlic.

Harvesting garlic usually takes place in July or August, depending on your location. Harvesting the garlic too early will result in smaller heads, harvesting too late will result in overly mature garlic that will not store well.  One indicator that the garlic is ready for harvest is when the lower half of the leaves turn yellow and brown. You can always pull a few heads to decide if it’s time.  If the head is good sized and the cloves fill the skin it is ready for harvest.

Harvest the garlic head, with the plant attached, using a shovel. Garlic can bruise, so handle carefully. Clean off excess soil and bundle in groups of five to ten plants.  Hang them in a warm, dry, airy place, out of the sun, for 3 to 4 weeks to cure. If you live in a very humid climate, you may want to remove the stems and roots and place the bulbs on a screen or chicken wire rack, for the drying/curing process.

After curing (check the clove wrappers inside the bulb to make sure they are dry) trim the stem and the roots and store in a cool (50-55 degrees), dry place for the fall and winter months.

We are in the process of harvesting our largest crop ever and the garlic looks terrific!  If you would like to order more garlic to plant this fall please order soon while selections are still good.  Perhaps you would like to try some new varieties?  Our new varieties – Red Grain, Italian Red and Hungarian Red are amazing – large, beautiful bulbs.  Click here to Order your garlic now!

 

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Garlic Scapes are on the Menu

20150618_174643It’s scape season and scapes are on the menu at our house! We’re picking scapes like mad and eating them every chance we get. Last night we enjoyed chicken BBQ with cauliflower “rice” made with sweet onions and garlic scapes and it wouldn’t be a BBQ without grilled garlic scapes.
We’ve got scapes for sale at our farm stand, if your local, and will send them anywhere in the US if your not – order garlic scapes

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Green Garlic

Just about the time we run out of garlic from last year’s crop it’s time to start eating green garlic.  Often called spring garlic or green garlic, it is simply garlic that is picked early in Organic Green Garlicthe spring before the cloves begin to form.

You can plant cloves close together in the fall to use as green garlic in the spring. On the farm we get our green garlic by picking “doubles” (two stems of garlic growing together).  One stem is left in the ground and the other goes from “farm to table.”  This vibrant, fresh garlic can be used in just about anything. Don’t be afraid to go big with these freshly picked beauties. You can use the whole stem and leaf (unless it is too woody at the top) and since its flavor is not as robust as regular garlic it will not overpower the dish. It’s great grilled, sauteed or freshly chopped for a salad.  Check out this link from The Huffington Post with some tantalizing green garlic recipes here.

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