Spring is slow to take hold in Vermont

Twilight Farm/Green Mountain Garlic

Twilight Farm/Green Mountain Garlic

Spring is slow to take hold in Vermont this year, but the garlic doesn’t seem to mind. It’s incredibly green and vibrant. We had almost 100% germination with very little winter kill, so with a little luck and some decent summer weather it should be a bumper crop.  We’ve added some new varieties to the line up this year – Persian Star and Red Grain. You can see those and our other varieties for 2015 here: http://www.greenmountaingarlic.com/shop/garlic/

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It’s been a great garlic growing season…

It’s been a great garlic growing season and we are harvesting monster bulbs like this at Green Mountain Garlic. Order your bulbs now for planting this fall.

German Extra Hardy

German Extra Hardy

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Benefits of eating Raw Garlic

Raw garlic is a food that should be on your menu daily, there are many benefits of eating raw garlic. It boosts your body’s natural abilities to protect you from hypertension and osteoporosis, and research is mounting that it decreases your risk for various forms of cancer. It is a potent antimicrobial as well, working as a natural antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral, and antiparasitic agent. Garlic must be fresh to give you optimal health benefits, though. The fresh clove must be crushed or chopped in order to stimulate the release of an enzyme called alliinase, which in turn catalyzes the formation of allicin.

Research10 has revealed that as allicin digests in your body, it produces sulfenic acid, a compound that reacts with dangerous free radicals faster than any other known compound. To activate garlic’s medicinal properties, compress a fresh clove with a spoon prior to swallowing it, or put it through your juicer to add to your vegetable juice. A single medium size clove or two is usually sufficient, and is well-tolerated by most people. The active ingredient, allicin, is destroyed within one hour of smashing the garlic, so garlic pills are virtually worthless. You also won’t reap all the health benefits garlic has to offer if you use jarred, powdered, or dried versions. Fermented black garlic is another option that will provide the active ingredients in a more usable form.

* Excerpt from Dr. Mercola article – “15 Healthiest Foods to Stock in Your Kitchen Year-Round”

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Ahhhh…. Green garlic

Just about the time we run out of garlic from last year’s crop it’s time to pick “doubles” (two stems of garlic growing together).  One stem is left in the ground and the other goes from “farm to table.” Often called spring garlic or green garlic, it is simply garlic that is picked early in the spring before the cloves begin to form.  This vibrant, fresh garlic can be used in just about anything. Don’t be afraid to go big with these freshly picked beauties. You can use the whole stem and leaf (unless it is too woody at the top) and  since its flavor is not as robust as regular garlic it will not overpower the dish. It’s great grilled, sauteed or freshly chopped for a salad.  Check out this link from The Huffington Post with some tantalizing green garlic recipes: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/green- garlic-recipes-photos_n_3498690.html

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Escape to Culinary Bliss: Garlic Scapes on the menu

A simple and delicious way to use garlic scapes: toss into vegetable sautées with a dollop of olive oil.

We are harvesting the garlic scapes!

It wasn’t too long ago that food-lovers and even chefs wondered, “What are scapes?” Today they ask, “Where can I get more?”

Scape season is short and sweet. Like lilacs, these culinary delights last only a few weeks. The scape is the brilliant green shoot that grows from hardneck garlic. Once it starts to curl like a pig’s tail, it’s ready to harvest. Scapes are best when they are young and tender, so get em while the gettin’ is good! We sell scapes locally and also by mail order. We send them off priority mail in a medium-sized, flat-rate box, complete with cool packs. Those of you who know and love scapes are already clicking on the “Add to Cart” button, but newbies might want a bit of guidance.

Garlic scapes are a favorite Go-to for sautées and stir frys. They behave a bit like chives with super powers. Not only do they add wonderful color, and a terrific garlic flavor, garlic they are high-fiber and contain good amounts of vitamin C, calcium, and pro-vitamin A. Mince them and toss them raw into salads and pestos for the greatest nutritional punch.

Here’s a simple Garlic Scape and Roasted Walnut pesto recipe to get you started:
Garlic Scapes
Roasted Walnuts
Parmesan or Asiago Cheese
Lemon Juice
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Blend until smooth and creamy. Vary quantities depending on your taste. Use more scapes for more kick, more cheese for a silkier pesto. The amount of olive oil you use will depend on your intentions for the pesto: for a sandwich spread, use less olive oil, for a dip or pasta topping, use a bit more.

Here is a fun, sexy pesto recipe you’ll want to try (and a fun story about pasta). Serve this pasta with Flash-sautéed cherry tomatoes with garlic scapes and chives and culinary bliss is yours.

A votre santé et Bon appétit!

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Peeling Garlic


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Garlic in the Spring


It’s always a treat to see the garlic in the Spring, popping up through the soil. It’s the first green thing we see in the spring.  It’s been a very cold winter and spring here in Vermont, but hopefully some warm weather will be here soon and before long we will be picking scapes.

garlic popping up in the spring

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Black Gold: Making your own Compost

The garlic is planted and it’s time to start thinking about next season. Aside from enjoying winter, there is something you can do to get ready for next season: compost.

One of the keys to great organic garlic is great soil. Great soil, or even good soil, is not always at your finger tips, but it can be created using great organic compost. You can purchase organic compost for your home garden, but it can be more empowering to make your own.

Start now and you’ll have beautiful, nourishing compost for your garlic crop and vegetable gardens next year.

According to Eartheasy.com “The key to successful composting is maintaining a balance between carbon and nitrogen materials in the compost bin. A healthy compost pile should have about two-thirds carbon (brown) materials and one-third nitrogen (green) materials. The carbon-rich materials provide aeration to speed up the composting process, eliminate foul odors and help produce a light, fluffy finished compost.”

The following chart from Squidoo gives composting guidelines. And here are some other composting tips to keep in mind:

  • Aerate: Your compost needs oxygen in order to break down the materials. Aerate your compost by stirring it regularly with a pitch fork or shovel.
  • Let the worms work for you. Worms break down the wastes in your compost. Collect them as you find them in your yard and garden and add them to your compost bin. The more, the better!
  • Worms love coffee grounds – keep them happy.
  • Egg shells are great in compost. Give them a head start by rinsing and breaking them up before adding them to your compost pile.
  • Keep your compost moist, but not too wet.
  • Keep your composter in direct sun, if possible. The heat will help speed things up.
  • Aged manure can help you get a head start on the nitrogen your compost will need to succeed.
  • Layer in some dry leaves – this adds air, space, carbon and nutrients.
  • Use wood ash sparingly – it can help maintain a neutral condition, the best environment to help microorganisms break down organic materials. Sprinkle a little bit of ash on each layer of compost.
  • What goes in, comes out: don’t use materials that have been exposed to pesticides; don’t use plant matter that is diseased; don’t use night soil or pet waste.

Composting is a simple process that yields great benefits. It helps regenerate poor soils, encourages the production of helpful micro-organisms, reduces the need for water and fertilizers, suppresses plant diseases and even reduces pollution. What could be more empowering than that?

image source: www.organic-compost-tumbler.com

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Putting Food By – Even Organic Garlic

In Vermont, the time-honored tradition of putting food by is alive and well. Though the refrigerator nearly killed our dependence on the root cellar, where garlic and onions can last all season long, we still use the same concepts for storing food we did in the Iron Age. But when you don’t have access to the natural coolness of the earth to preserve your root vegetables, a cool, dark room will do. Organic garlic keeps well at 50 degrees.

For serious garlic lovers, though, it can take more than a remote location in another room to prevent the whole crop from disappearing into tonight’s dinner. To make the magic last a little longer, some cooks will resort to pickling, roasting and canning.

Putting garlic by – here are two recipes that caught our eye:

Tigress Can Jam – Roasted Garlic Syrup (from the Artistry of Acorn Cottage)
Normally roasting turns garlic into a sweet heavenly paste that is usually consumed immediately if not sooner. This recipe lets you re-experience the delight of roasted garlic anytime.

3 medium bulbs of garlic
1 T olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar

1 C dry white wine
2/3 C water
1/2 C white balsamic vinegar
1 t whole black peppercorn, crushed
3 T lemon juice
3 C granulated sugar
2 envelopes liquid pectin

Canning this gelatinous cold requires the same care as canning any jam or preserve. Take a look at the full recipe for details.

Pickled Garlic (from SeriousEats.com)
1 pound fresh garlic, peeled
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon pickling salt

The process and recipe details are here.

Garlic image credits: cmilli.com and www.seriouseats.com

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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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