The End of the Garlic!

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So I keep saying I’ve been busy making soap, and it’s certainly true, but actually the real time-sucking activity recently has been dealing with the last of the year’s garlic crop.  

To start with, we needed to plant next year’s crop still!  Yes, you’re supposed to plant garlic “as soon as possible after first frost”, so mid-October around here.  Yes, November is usually still fine, especially in a mild fall.  No, we didn’t manage either of those.  Or December.  Well, we did start the very last week of December, but we didn’t finish until January 4th or so.  Definitely my worst planting year ever!  The previous worst was the year Malachi was born - supposed to be October 6th, ended up being the 20th, so mid-October was obviously a joke!  I vowed to finish in that year, and I planted the last of the garlic on New Years Eve, in 40 degree drizzle, at dusk - but I did it!  This time, the Inchelium Red went in first, as usual - it’s the shortest storing of the varieties I have, and likes to sprout by November or December.  Then we got the Elephant in, since it was quick and easy, although by then the ground was getting pretty frozen - we had some multi-day stretches that barely broke freezing.  New Year’s Day, we started on the Music variety, probably my favorite, and managed to jam maybe 600? In the frozen ground.  I was pretty despondent at that point, since garlic seed really doesn’t store.  If you don’t plant it, it sprouts or rots or dries up, and it’s gone by the next planting season.  It’s truly use it or lose it, and I didn’t see how I’d even plant enough of the Siberian to just replicate my seed crop for next year.  Then, I had a lightbulb moment - we never managed to really plant anything in the hoop house!  There’s just one bed of sweet potatoes we’re digging through, and a few carrots, and we’re planning to set up a second hoop house by spring to be the summer one, and use this one for fall-winter-spring, so we aren’t planning to need this one empty early in the spring to plant for summer.  We can just plant the rest of the garlic there!  So we finished the Music and planted lots of Siberian in the relative comfort of the hoop house (the dirt was only frozen at the outside edge, on the second day, and we could shed coats happily - balmy compared to outdoors!). 

Next - even though I felt a huge weight off my shoulders at actually getting all my garlic seed in the ground, there was still all the garlic that wasn’t planted to be dealt with.  I actually sold all my Inchelium Red soft neck garlic, between the local farmer’s markets and selling braids on Etsy, I used up every bit of sale quality, for the first time in several years.  I did not, however, use up all of the other 3 varieties!  Last year, with Ewan only a few months old, I just composted the remaining garlic in the barn after December, but this year I’m about out of garlic powder (only a half-gallon left, and I sell it slowly but steadily and that won’t last a year) and also out of roasted garlic jam (amazing on meats, sandwiches, etc), and pretty low on my frozen roasted garlic purée that I use in everything.  So, I’ve been drying 4 sheet pans at a time in the oven, while roasting a full 9”x13” pan on the wood stove, constantly for about a week and a half now.  I’m close to done the Elephant garlic, and starting on the Music/Siberian.  I’m processing them separately - I dried and ground the Elephant by itself, assuming it would be a bit more mild since the fresh garlic is, and was amazed at just how mild it is!  In fact, I’m labeling it “onion powder” - it is so sweet, I even made the boys try a finger-dab straight out of the jar, it’s that’s mellow!  I’m also freezing it just minced, in muffin-cup-fuls popped out and packed in gallon Ziploc bags.  I can either use it that way later, or dry it when I get a chance later this winter.  I’m also freezing and drying the hard neck garlics, for regular garlic powder, and for just using minced - it’s so convenient to pull a half-cup-ish muffin cup out of the freezer and keep it in the fridge for instant minced garlic all year!  I’m also roasting the Music and Siberian (the Elephant is so mild it roasts up pretty bland) and freezing the roasted cloves whole, also in bags of individual muffin cups for later use, either as is (you can toss whole roasted cloves in soooo many things - pasta, pasta salads, soups/stews, summer tomato salads, stroganoff, you name it!) or sometime later - “when I have some free time” ha ha - I can thaw it and make some roasted garlic jam.  

So, all this garlic-ness has been occupying much of my time, and the boys’ - they are peeling big panfuls every day, but fortunately the Elephant is super-easy to peel so that one is always their job, but it just has to be done, and done right now (the recent repeated low single digit temperatures have sounded the death knell for outdoor-stored garlic!).  I try not to get caught up in things I “should” do that are only for the outside world, so to speak, and remember that our primary goal is to provide for ourselves.  I have a rich bounty of something I have produced, and I need to utilize it while I can, and that is just as important as making more soap, or working on my websites, and it is so rewarding to look at gallons of garlic powder and know I don’t have to do that again for a couple years :) 

Comments

I have a friend who stores

I have a friend who stores garlic by putting peeled cloves into jars and covering them in honey. Her family eats them like candy and she can use them everywhere.

Fermented garlic

I knew someone who did the same thing. I’ve also fermented them like sauerkraut, but whole, with some fresh rosemary sprigs. They came out like they’d been soaked in butter :). So mild, I put them in pasta and tomato salads, they we’re delicious!

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