Thursday, August 22, 2019


Garlic Ready to go

Garlic is a member of the onion family (Which I do not like), but I have come to love garlic and use it in much of my cooking. It is important in Portuguese and Spanish cooking and is essential to good Italian cooking. It is delicious in a simple Italian pasta dish and and becomes a major item in some of my recipes including a “Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic”. My kitchen always has a couple of garlic heads ready to be added to recipes.

I tried to grow my own garlic, but found it was expensive and really not worth the effort, especially since I have found a reliable source of excellent locally grown garlic. My friend Joanie has a niece who grows garlic for sale on her farm in Gore. On a sunny day this week I was invited down to visit the farm and take part in the garlic harvest and tour the farm. The farm has chickens (egg birds and meat birds), Turkeys, pigs and sheep as well as horses, but I was there to see the garlic harvest.

After Joanie's niece Tina gave me an interesting tour of the farm, I was invited to join in with
Just harvested
processing the garlic which was ready to be harvested. Comfortable folding chairs and a picnic table were set up under a large sun shelter, and piles of just pulled garlic were waiting to be sorted, clipped, cleaned and strung in batches of 50 heads. The weather had been dry, so bunches of ripe garlic was simply pulled from the ground and carried to the picnic table. They were then sorted; a new experiment, where the genetics of the crop were being explored and so the number of cloves were sorted, three, four, five or six with the rare two or seven put in separate piles. At planting time they will be planted in separate sections of the garden to see if five clove garlic will produce more five clove heads next year.

I did all these!
I discovered that four clove heads was the “Normal”and these were being processed for sale. The roots were snipped off and the plants were stacked in piles to be cleaned. Coming from the ground the garlic is of course dirty, and people do not like to buy dirty garlic, so you need to strip off a couple of layers of the outer skins. This is done by finding the first green shoot up the stalk and stripping it down. This removes one or two layers of the white papery skin of the garlic, and if done carefully, leaves a lovely clean white head of garlic. I discovered quickly that the process was not hard; peel the green leaf down and pull the attached layers off. Sometimes you have to rub gently to remove some of the dirty outer layers, and usually enough of the papery outer garlic coating remains to protect the head. The now clean white garlic are piled together. The tops are now clipped off leaving a stem of about six inches. These finished heads are then threaded together with a large needle and strung into bunches of 50 heads which are then hung in the barn to dry before being sold to the hungry public for use in their recipes.

I have always just taken delicious garlic for granted, and I have sampled Tina's local product last fall,
The crew hard at work
so I knew how good it was, and this visit to the farm and getting involved with the process have made me more aware of how garlic is grown, harvested and processed. I spent an interesting afternoon helping with this work and after cleaning a couple of hundred (only a guess . . . ) head of garlic I was ready to head home with a little threaded bunch of garlic to be hung in my basement to dry while I waited for my main order of a couple of pounds of fresh Nova Scotia garlic to be ready to enhance my cooking.

A big thank you to Tina and her family for educating me to the world of garlic. One of Tina's chickens came home with me to wait in the freezer for the garlic to be dry and I think I will do another 40 clove chicken.
Drying in the barn

Hard at work

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