Sunday, July 21, 2013

Garlic Galore



The garlic plants sent their flower shoots up, green tendrils curling around themselves into loosely twisted spirals. At the end of each tendril squats a potential flower, and it is our job to pick the shoot - or garlic scape - before the flower blooms. This serves many purposes. Firstly, the scapes are delicious, and I hope that all of you had a chance to try this brief seasonal treat that tastes mildly of garlic, but a gentler, greener garlic than the bulb. Secondly, pulling the scape prevents the flower from blooming, so that the plant puts more energy into its root. This way we get large, densely flavored garlic heads.  Picking scapes can be a game. If one is careful, the stem will slide out of the plant, finally emerging with a ‘pop’ as a full scape. More often, though, it breaks before the whole stem is pulled, snapping off before the most tender part of the scape is retrieved.

Just a few days ago we finally harvested the garlic itself. The heat index was above 100 and I was sweating profusely as I used the broadfork to loosen the soil around the bulbs. We are now in the process of bundling it and hanging it from the barn ceiling so it can dry. We’ve hung strands of twine from nails in the rafters with bunches of fifteen or so garlic plants staggered down the string. Now I know why the barn gets so dirty. Walking inside is like walking into a wall of garlic.

I’ve been going to Ypsi market each week and it’s always fun to talk with market goers and hear their recipe ideas. The ‘Double Up Food Bucks’ program has just kicked in, which is great for us and great for vegetable lovers. This program allows those with food stamp money to cash their stamps in at market and receive twice that amount of money to buy produce; though it only applies at farmers markets for vegetables.

Our CSA members have been receiving a lot of kale, as kale grows well in all weather and is a staple crop for any season. One good way I’ve found to prepare it is in a crushed kale salad. I slice the kale into very thin strips and poor a vinaigrette over top. Usually, I make the vinaigrette with half olive oil and half red wine vinegar, and add some honey to sweeten the tart taste. After pouring your dressing onto your salad, scrunch the kale with your hands for a few seconds. This will soften it and allow the flavor of the dressing to permeate. Yum!

 Submitted by Stephanie Willette, assistant farm manager, 7-21-13