Curing Organic Garlic: Waiting for Perfection

It is an exciting time at the Garlic Farm: we are busy with this year’s harvest. Most of the organic garlic is already drying in the barn. Now that waiting begins.

After garlic is harvested it needs to be cured, and curing takes time.  If you try to speed up the process of preserving garlic, by for example leaving it in direct sunlight, you can destroy your garlic crop. So we wait.

You can of course eat garlic at any stage of its development – baby garlic and scapes are both wonderful and uncured garlic has a juicy, fresh taste. But curing is essential to its longevity in the pantry. We also believe that the flavors develop and mature, like fine wine. In cured garlic, you can distinguish among the different flavors of garlic varieties. All varieties of garlic when eaten fresh at harvest have a similar, young taste – like that of  beaujolais nouveau.

Curing garlic is the process by which the outer leaf sheaths and neck tissues of the bulb are dried. Warm temperatures, low relative humidity, and good airflow are conditions needed for efficient curing…Curing is essential to obtain maximize storage life and have minimal decay.

Garlic flavor is due to the formation of organosulfur compounds when the main odorless precursor alliin is converted by the enzyme alliinase to allicin and other flavor compounds. This occurs at low rates unless the garlic cloves are crushed or damaged. Alliin content decreases during storage of garlic bulbs, but the effect of time, storage temperatures and atmospheres has not yet been well documented. (postharvest.ucdavis.edu)

The reason for this ‘lack of documentation’ is consumption. Before the hands of time can crush it, all the good garlic is usually devoured. We’ve heard that organic garlic loses its punch over time, but we never had the patience to wait that long!

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2012 garlic is harvested and in the barn

Garlic drying in the upstairs of the barn

Harvesting garlic in July 2012

Tarp protects the garlic from the sun

Garlic hanging in the barn

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Follow Your Nose – the Foodie Trail in Waterbury Center starts with Garlic

For dedicated Foodies in Vermont, life revolves around the kitchen. The kitchen is the center of cooking and entertaining; local, fresh food is the nucleus of the menu; and of course, garlic is the flavorful foundation of all things savory. At Green Mountain Garlic, we take it a step further. For us, garlic is the quintessence of cooking…and the root of the Foodie Trail in Waterbury Center.

Within a 15-miles radius, you’ll find some great Vermont Foodie destinations. The Google Map below will get your started on the trail of Central Vermont Culinary Delights:

A: Green Mountain Garlic – Home sweet home
B: Hen of the Wood* – Food cooked from as close to the source as possible
C: Michael’s On the Hill* – European Influenced Farm to Table Cuisine
D: Ben & Jerrys – A sorbet to cleanse the palette?
E: Cold Hollow Cider Mill – Grab something for breakfast tomorrow
F: Prohibition Pig – Classic cocktails, craft beer, fine barbecue

View Larger Map

*Michaels’ On the Hill and Hen of the Wood get top billing because they serve Green Mountain Garlic and and often have scapes on their menus (in season and depending upon availability). Both restaurants base their menus on the availability of fresh, local ingredients.

Michael speaks with farmers before the season to discuss his desires and to learn of any unique seasonal conditions…”Our menus are created around our local organic farmers’ specialties.” His summer menu includes this spectacular appetizer: Maplebrook Farm Buratta with Grilled Stone Fruit, Garlic Scapes, Lemon Balm Olive Oil & Fleur de Sel (soon to be your favorite: Buratta is a fresh, Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream).

Hen of the Wood creates daily changing menus based on “the wealth of premium ingredients found only miles from the restaurant in the lush Green Mountains and Champlain Valley”. A recent menu included New England Flounder with
Spring Vegetables, Spring Garlic & Saffron.

A few Waterbury treasures eluded the watchful eye of Google Maps. Among them are: Blackback Pub & Flyshop, a craft beer bar (Blackback is a nickname for Brook Trout, the only native stream dwelling trout to New England), and The Daisy Knoll Berry Farm on Shaw Mansion Road, just up the road about one mile from the Garlic Farm.

Happy Trails.

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Twilight Farm Rocks

The upstairs of the barn, which is usually used for drying garlic, turns out to be a great place for making music.

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Bring on the Garlic Scapes!


Every garlic bulb wants to grow up to become a luscious green garlic plant. Thus it sends up beautiful, spiraling shoots as it grows. These are garlic scapes. They grow from hard-neck varieties of garlic. Farmers harvest them, thus focusing all the garlic’s energy back down into bulb growth. While the uninitiated might want to weave these lovely garlic scapes into organic beer-can holders or fragrant gift baskets, those in the know have better ideas.

Fresh garlic scapes are terrific added to spaghetti sauce, salsa, pesto or omelets. The caloric content they add in these uses is negligible, but the flavor content is spectacular. According to Carolyn Cope of Seriouseats.com:

In one sense, scapes are to garlic as fusilli is to rigatoni: the crazy-bastard college buddy who never really embraced adulthood, the one you catch up with by phone once or twice a year.  When they’re young and tender, they… offer more than a slightly rowdy alternative to garlic. Because of their substantial heft as opposed to garlic cloves, they are vegetable, aromatic, and even herb all in one. If you get some from your CSA, happen upon a giant pile of them at the farmers’ market, or snip them from your garden, don’t politely look the other way. Grab a handful and give one of these ideas a try.

The recipes she lists include the ever popular Garlic Scape Pesto and Grilled Scapes, but also includes:
Scape Compound Butter – add a little lemon
Scapes as Aromatic – use them as you would garlic
Scapes as vegetable – use them like you would green beans
Scape Soup – Check out this incredible Double Garlic Soup

Stop by the farm to buy armloads of scapes, or order them here, we’ll ship anywhere in the country.

image credit: chiotsrun.com

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Taking Garlic for Tax Time Stress

Garlic can help you pay your taxes. Really. Tax time can be stressful, even in Vermont in April when spring is just becoming believable. Some of us rely on accountants, alcohol, and/or denial to get through April 15th. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

We don’t recommend you abandon your accountant, but you can find healthier ways to handle the stress of tax time. Garlic is the answer. Garlic’s reputation as a medicinal is world famous, and has been for centuries.

Historically, garlic has been used around the world to treat many conditions, including hypertension and stress. According to Garlic-Central.com, “Studies have also shown that garlic – especially aged garlic – can have a powerful antioxidant effect. Antioxidants can help to protect the body against damaging free radicals. There are claims that fermented black garlic contains even higher antioxidant levels than normal cloves.” Antioxidants are proven stress relievers.

Garlic is considered a balancing tonic in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines, and its use is also backed by science. In his recent book, Garlic and You: The Modern Medicine, Dr. Benjamin Lau, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Microbiology, Immunology, and Surgery at Loma Linda University’s School of Medicine, documents and scientifically confirms the benefits of using garlic to reduce stress and fatigue.

It improves digestion and enhances liver function and the immune system. It is good for the heart, circulation, and eyes. Garlic works to reduce fatigue and other symptoms of stress in the body. Studies show that it also increases energy levels, improves physical stamina and even extends our life expectancy!

You can take garlic as a supplement, but you’ll miss the wonderful flavors. Instead, ward off the evil spirit of tax time stress with a few extra cloves in your meals. One for you, nineteen for me…

 

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New Piggies on the Farm

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Early Spring in Vermont: The Garlic is doing fine!

The unseasonably warm spring weather is breaking records here in Vermont and causing speculation about the 2012 growing season. Trees are budding earlier, migratory birds have returned ahead of schedule, and peepers are singing. Vermont’s maple sugaring season has come and gone – weeks early.

While some areas are experiencing the warmest March in more than one hundred years, it is not uncommon for Vermont temperatures to dip below freezing as late as early May. This may cause some problems for the more vulnerable crops lulled into an early bloom by the record warmth.

But the garlic is doing fine! In fact, the mild winter nudged many Belarus up as early as November! The unusual growing conditions may cause some winterkill and some smaller heads, but the 2012 garlic crop is doing very well. Mulch is part of the secret. The natural hardiness of garlic gets a boost from good mulch. It protects that plant, keeps weeds down and keeps the ground moist. We recommend keeping mulch on your garlic all summer long.

The Farmers Almanac predicts a cooler than normal April. While these radical temperature swings won’t harm the garlic, they may effect your mood. Don’t lose sight of garlic’s powers to heal and detoxify. Garlic is a mood-elevating super-food. And National Garlic Day (April 19th) is right around the corner. You might just find that you need garlic more than your garlic needs you.

image credit: neatorama.com

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Happy to be “on the board” at Hen of the Wood Restaurant

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Nothing says Happy Thanksgiving like the smell of Garlic in the kitchen

To celebrate the season and the turkeys rooting around the fields at the garlic farm, we thought we’d look into favorite garlic-infused holiday recipes. Turkey of course is the most popular dish, but we also looked at some vegetarian options (November 1st was World Vegan Day and more that 7.5 Million Americans are vegetarian).

Contrary to popular belief, turkey, when it is not basted in butter is a good source of lean protein, B vitamins, magnesium, and potassium. When it is basted in butter (one recipe we found uses garlic butter with sage and rosemary) it can be heaven, but let’s look at healthier, but equally delicious versions:

In this recipe, roasted garlic replaces most of the fat in the gravy and I love the onions under the turkey in this dish: Herb Rubbed Turkey with Roasted Garlic Gravy – from Epicurious.

Here is another terrific low-fat turkey recipe: Lemon-Garlic Roast Turkey & White-Wine Gravy – from Mysimplylife.com.

There is plenty to celebrate about marriage of rosemary and garlic. Here is a rosemary-garlic turkey recipe followed by an herbed garlic butter recipe:
This Rosemary-Garlic roast turkey recipe combines garlic, rosemary and olive oil into a thick, green paste. The paste is very versatile and can also be used to adorn roasted veggies, bread or even tofu.

Rosemary-Garlic roast turkey

Rosemary-Garlic Butter:
1/2 cup butter, softened (use margarine for a vegan version)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

This herb butter can be used to spice up veggies or baste meat.
And finally these Roasted Root Vegetables can stand on their own as a main entrée or can be served as a savory side: Roasted Root Vegetables: from Dr, Weils’ Blog.

For more garlic-infused vegetarian options try:
Giving Thanks for Vegetables, Not Turkey
A Vegan Chef Dishes Up Thanksgiving

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