In case you missed my previous post about garlic scapes and are scratching your head thinking garlic what?
Garlic scapes are the seed heads produced by hardneck garlic varieties. They appear in the spring, and if left to grow they will flower and produce dozens of tiny garlic bubils (seeds). Most growers cut the scape off the garlic plant in order to allow the garlic to put more energy into growing a bigger bulb. If cut early the scapes are tender and delicious. They are said to have the same nutritional value as garlic bulbs, and although they possess a milder flavor when cooked, they are a culinary delight. They are great roasted, grilled, stir fried or used raw in dips, salads and pesto. To discover great garlic scape recipes simply do an internet search for garlic scape recipes. They are only available for a short time in the spring but can be preserved by freezing or pickling.
Yesterday I spent many hours cutting and bundling more than 1500 garlic scapes.
This morning my worked paid off as we delivered the garlic scapes to the Nino Salvaggio Saint Clair Shores, Michigan store. http://www.ninosalvaggio.com/
The scapes were set out for sale immediately. It was encouraging that the employees at Nino Salvaggio were eager to learn what the scapes were and how they can be used, and they can now share this information with their customers.
We would like to send out a big thank you to Nino Salvaggio for helping us get our garlic scapes into the hands of those who will use them. If you shop at Nino Salvaggio you, too, might want to let them know that you appreciate their efforts to support local farmers while making quality products available to the customers.
It’s time to start cutting the scapes. The music garlic has formed scapes and we want to cut them while they are still young and tender.
What are garlic scapes???
They are the seed heads produced by hardneck garlic varieties. They appear in the spring, and if left to grow they will flower and produce dozens of tiny garlic bubils (seeds). Most growers cut the scape off the garlic plant in order to allow the garlic to put more energy into growing a bigger bulb. If cut early the scapes are tender and delicious. They are said to have the same nutritional value as garlic bulbs, and although they possess a milder flavor when cooked, they are a culinary delight. They are great roasted, grilled, stir fried or used raw in dips, salads and pesto. To discover great garlic scape recipes simply do an internet search for garlic scape recipes or try the pesto recipe at the bottom of the page. They are only available for a short time in the spring but can be preserved by freezing or pickling.
The above is a photo of a garlic scape forming. If allowed to grow it will probably form a second curl before straightening up and forming a seed head on top.
This photo is some of the scapes I cut last year.
Garlic Scape Pesto
1 cup garlic scapes (8 or 9 scapes), top flowery part removed, cut into 1⁄4-inch slices 1⁄3 cup walnuts 3⁄4cup olive oil 1⁄4to 1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Ground black pepper
1. Place the scapes and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and blend until well combined and somewhat smooth. Slowly drizzle in the oil and process until integrated.
2. With a rubber spatula, scoop the pesto out of the bowl and into a mixing bowl. Add Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.
3. Keeps for up to one week in the refrigerator. Also freezes well; the cheese can be added to the pesto after it has thawed.
Makes about 3⁄4 cup.
Garlic scapes are only available for a few short weeks in the spring. If you are looking for scapes sent me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In my Part IV post that I wrote in January I expressed our great concerns about how well the garlic would grow in the wet conditions that we were having this past winter. The wet conditions continued pretty much throughout the winter, with only short freezing periods, and now into the spring. At this point we have learned that garlic is much more resilient that we believed it to be.
The garlic is coming up beautifully and we are so thankful. Since it has all grown up through the straw, we will leave the straw in place to help with weed control. If the garlic had not grown through the straw we would be raking the straw away in hopes of revealing the garlic spouts.
As the ground dries and temperatures warm I expect to see vigorous green growth on the garlic. We will keep them weeded and watered as necessary and probably side dress it with nitrogen fertilizer in the spring to encourage the green growth. It is recommended that fertilizer not be given after May because at this point the bulb will be developing.
It has always been my intention to give a mid-winter garlic growing update, and I thought it would say something like this. “This time of year the garlic does not need our attention. It is dormant in the ground waiting for temperatures to warm so it can resume it’s growth cycle.” That is the way it should be.
Unfortunately, at least a far as growing garlic is concerned, we are not experiencing a normal Michigan winter where temperatures are below freezing and precipitation comes in the form of snow and stays on the ground until the warmth and sunshine of spring melts it away. Winter started out with good snowfalls coming before Christmas. In early January we had some days of single digit temperatures and wind-chills even lower, and while we were uncomfortable, I had no concerns about the garlic. Then the weather changed, we started getting warmer days. Any snow that had accumulated melted, and any precipitation that we have gotten has come in the form of rain or freezing rain. In the past 10 days our daytime high temperatures have been above freezing and nighttime lows have only been at the freezing point on a few of those days. The sunshine has been scarce, most of the days the sky has been gray or the fog has been so thick that, even though it is not recorded as precipitation, it is certainly adding moisture to the environment. As a result the ground has been wet and muddy.
Earlier this week when we noticed water sitting on top of the ground in the isles between the garlic rows we decided to check the condition of the garlic field. It was distressing to find that the ground was completely saturated. Stepping in the garlic field resulted in sinking well above our ankles in the mud. We had great concerns about the garlic being so wet. Can it tolerate these conditions and if so for how long? At that point we cleared the drainage routes so more water was able to run off, and we prayed that we did not lose the crop. We were encouraged when my husband pushed back some of the straw mulch and saw some green garlic shoots. A least at this point those plants are still alive.
Yesterday’s mix of rain and snow did not help matters any, but I am encouraged when I look at our 10 day forecast that shows temperatures, beginning today, only getting as high as the freezing mark on most days. I believe what we really need right now is for the ground to freeze, for the sun to shine, and for precipitation not to fall. Since we can’t control the weather we will continue to pray and realize that there is a lot of risk involved in farming.
In the mean time I have been experimenting with another way of growing and eating garlic.
Green garlic is the aerial, or above ground, part of the garlic plant. It is edible just as green onion or chives are. It is best eaten when the greens are young and tender. It definitely has the garlic flavor when eaten raw but the flavor mellows quickly when it is cooked.
Growing green garlic can be as simple as planting some garlic cloves, give them plenty of sun and keep them watered (although not over watered) then cut the greens when they are young and tender. They will probably grow back a couple of times but eventually the plant will die off. Green garlic can be planted outdoors pretty much anytime of the year that the ground is suitable for planting. Depending on temperatures expect to see it sprouting in 4-8 weeks.
I am using a different approach to growing green garlic. I am growing green garlic indoors, in pots.
And rather than plant small cloves in the pots, I planted bulbils.
Although I have read that they are not true seeds, Garlic bulbils are produced by the garlic scape of hard neck garlic plants. If the scape is left on the plant to mature it produces a flower which then forms the bulbils. Each year we allow some scapes to mature and produce bulbils. I am certain that bulbils could be eaten just like garlic cloves except that they are covered with a tough skin that seems impossible to remove.
In the past I have planted bulbils in strategic places, as companion plants, in attempts to ward of critters . When left in the ground they act just like lilies, coming up in the spring dying off in the fall and coming back bigger the following spring. If they were dug up in the fall they would have produced a round or a single clove of garlic. If that clove is then replanted it will produce multiple cloves the following year. Depending on the variety it may take 2-5 years to produce an average size garlic bulb. Given this information you may see why I think growing green garlic is the best use for bulbils.
Green garlic is said to have the same health benefits as garlic cloves. From the plants I have growing I have chopped it and mixed it with butter to make garlic bread, I have added it to salads and chopped some to put it an omelet. Occasionally, I break off a sprig or two and just eat it. Growing your own green garlic is a great way to assure that you always have fresh, locally grown garlic on hand.
While the smell of garlic may be appetizing even mouth-watering when it’s cooking into a pot of spaghetti sauce, baking into a piece of garlic bread, or made into a dip, there are times when the smell of garlic is, to say the least, a nuisance and can even be repugnant.
For years I’ve struggled with finding storage containers that are appropriate for storing foods with a heavy garlic smell (ditto for onion). When food with this strong smell are stored in plastic containers the smell is next to impossible to get out, and thus can be transferred to whatever is next stored in the container. I have adopted two rules for storing foods with heavy garlic or onion smell 1)store these foods in disposable containers, or 2) do not save leftovers.
A few days ago I broke my own rules and saved some (heavy on the garlic) clam sauce in a plastic container (one that I really didn’t want to throw away). Yesterday, after I emptied the container, I attempted to clean it. While it looked clean the garlic odor lingered in the bowl. In the past I have tried soaking plastic bowls in vinegar or lemon juice to get rid of the garlic smell, I’ve also tried scrubbing the plastic with baking soda, and combining the baking soda with vinegar to get rid of it, all to no avail.
Yesterday, after I realized my mistake, I remembered reading about, and then blogging about, cooks who use coffee soap to wash the smell of garlic from their hands, https://donteatitsoap.com/2015/12/28/garlic-kitchen-tools-pros-and-cons/ I thought maybe coffee would work in this instance. I took the used coffee grounds from the morning, which were still on the top in the compost bucket, and put some in the bowl. I filled the bowl with hot water, put the lid on, I shook the bowl up, then let it sit for 10 minutes. When I opened the bowl and poured the coffee and grounds down the disposal, the garlic smell was replaced by a coffee smell. I washed the bowl with dish soap and hot water and all odors were gone.
I do not know if all of these steps were necessary. It is possible that soaking the bowl with brewed coffee (no grounds) would have removed the odor, or that a simple scrubbing with a few coffee grounds would have done the trick, and I will probably experiment with these options in the future. I just thought I would share with you the method that did work.
Now that I have discovered this trick I’m wondering if drinking coffee is the solution to garlic breath.