2012 garlic is harvested and in the barn

Garlic drying in the upstairs of the barn

Harvesting garlic in July 2012

Tarp protects the garlic from the sun

Garlic hanging in the barn

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Follow Your Nose – the Foodie Trail in Waterbury Center starts with Garlic

For dedicated Foodies in Vermont, life revolves around the kitchen. The kitchen is the center of cooking and entertaining; local, fresh food is the nucleus of the menu; and of course, garlic is the flavorful foundation of all things savory. At Green Mountain Garlic, we take it a step further. For us, garlic is the quintessence of cooking…and the root of the Foodie Trail in Waterbury Center.

Within a 15-miles radius, you’ll find some great Vermont Foodie destinations. The Google Map below will get your started on the trail of Central Vermont Culinary Delights:

A: Green Mountain Garlic – Home sweet home
B: Hen of the Wood* – Food cooked from as close to the source as possible
C: Michael’s On the Hill* – European Influenced Farm to Table Cuisine
D: Ben & Jerrys – A sorbet to cleanse the palette?
E: Cold Hollow Cider Mill – Grab something for breakfast tomorrow
F: Prohibition Pig – Classic cocktails, craft beer, fine barbecue

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*Michaels’ On the Hill and Hen of the Wood get top billing because they serve Green Mountain Garlic and and often have scapes on their menus (in season and depending upon availability). Both restaurants base their menus on the availability of fresh, local ingredients.

Michael speaks with farmers before the season to discuss his desires and to learn of any unique seasonal conditions…”Our menus are created around our local organic farmers’ specialties.” His summer menu includes this spectacular appetizer: Maplebrook Farm Buratta with Grilled Stone Fruit, Garlic Scapes, Lemon Balm Olive Oil & Fleur de Sel (soon to be your favorite: Buratta is a fresh, Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream).

Hen of the Wood creates daily changing menus based on “the wealth of premium ingredients found only miles from the restaurant in the lush Green Mountains and Champlain Valley”. A recent menu included New England Flounder with
Spring Vegetables, Spring Garlic & Saffron.

A few Waterbury treasures eluded the watchful eye of Google Maps. Among them are: Blackback Pub & Flyshop, a craft beer bar (Blackback is a nickname for Brook Trout, the only native stream dwelling trout to New England), and The Daisy Knoll Berry Farm on Shaw Mansion Road, just up the road about one mile from the Garlic Farm.

Happy Trails.

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Twilight Farm Rocks

The upstairs of the barn, which is usually used for drying garlic, turns out to be a great place for making music.

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Bring on the Garlic Scapes!

Every garlic bulb wants to grow up to become a luscious green garlic plant. Thus it sends up beautiful, spiraling shoots as it grows. These are garlic scapes. They grow from hard-neck varieties of garlic. Farmers harvest them, thus focusing all the garlic’s energy back down into bulb growth. While the uninitiated might want to weave these lovely garlic scapes into organic beer-can holders or fragrant gift baskets, those in the know have better ideas.

Fresh garlic scapes are terrific added to spaghetti sauce, salsa, pesto or omelets. The caloric content they add in these uses is negligible, but the flavor content is spectacular. According to Carolyn Cope of Seriouseats.com:

In one sense, scapes are to garlic as fusilli is to rigatoni: the crazy-bastard college buddy who never really embraced adulthood, the one you catch up with by phone once or twice a year.  When they’re young and tender, they… offer more than a slightly rowdy alternative to garlic. Because of their substantial heft as opposed to garlic cloves, they are vegetable, aromatic, and even herb all in one. If you get some from your CSA, happen upon a giant pile of them at the farmers’ market, or snip them from your garden, don’t politely look the other way. Grab a handful and give one of these ideas a try.

The recipes she lists include the ever popular Garlic Scape Pesto and Grilled Scapes, but also includes:
Scape Compound Butter – add a little lemon
Scapes as Aromatic – use them as you would garlic
Scapes as vegetable – use them like you would green beans
Scape Soup – Check out this incredible Double Garlic Soup

Stop by the farm to buy armloads of scapes, or order them here, we’ll ship anywhere in the country.

image credit: chiotsrun.com

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Taking Garlic for Tax Time Stress

Garlic can help you pay your taxes. Really. Tax time can be stressful, even in Vermont in April when spring is just becoming believable. Some of us rely on accountants, alcohol, and/or denial to get through April 15th. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

We don’t recommend you abandon your accountant, but you can find healthier ways to handle the stress of tax time. Garlic is the answer. Garlic’s reputation as a medicinal is world famous, and has been for centuries.

Historically, garlic has been used around the world to treat many conditions, including hypertension and stress. According to Garlic-Central.com, “Studies have also shown that garlic – especially aged garlic – can have a powerful antioxidant effect. Antioxidants can help to protect the body against damaging free radicals. There are claims that fermented black garlic contains even higher antioxidant levels than normal cloves.” Antioxidants are proven stress relievers.

Garlic is considered a balancing tonic in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines, and its use is also backed by science. In his recent book, Garlic and You: The Modern Medicine, Dr. Benjamin Lau, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Microbiology, Immunology, and Surgery at Loma Linda University’s School of Medicine, documents and scientifically confirms the benefits of using garlic to reduce stress and fatigue.

It improves digestion and enhances liver function and the immune system. It is good for the heart, circulation, and eyes. Garlic works to reduce fatigue and other symptoms of stress in the body. Studies show that it also increases energy levels, improves physical stamina and even extends our life expectancy!

You can take garlic as a supplement, but you’ll miss the wonderful flavors. Instead, ward off the evil spirit of tax time stress with a few extra cloves in your meals. One for you, nineteen for me…


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New Piggies on the Farm

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Early Spring in Vermont: The Garlic is doing fine!

The unseasonably warm spring weather is breaking records here in Vermont and causing speculation about the 2012 growing season. Trees are budding earlier, migratory birds have returned ahead of schedule, and peepers are singing. Vermont’s maple sugaring season has come and gone – weeks early.

While some areas are experiencing the warmest March in more than one hundred years, it is not uncommon for Vermont temperatures to dip below freezing as late as early May. This may cause some problems for the more vulnerable crops lulled into an early bloom by the record warmth.

But the garlic is doing fine! In fact, the mild winter nudged many Belarus up as early as November! The unusual growing conditions may cause some winterkill and some smaller heads, but the 2012 garlic crop is doing very well. Mulch is part of the secret. The natural hardiness of garlic gets a boost from good mulch. It protects that plant, keeps weeds down and keeps the ground moist. We recommend keeping mulch on your garlic all summer long.

The Farmers Almanac predicts a cooler than normal April. While these radical temperature swings won’t harm the garlic, they may effect your mood. Don’t lose sight of garlic’s powers to heal and detoxify. Garlic is a mood-elevating super-food. And National Garlic Day (April 19th) is right around the corner. You might just find that you need garlic more than your garlic needs you.

image credit: neatorama.com

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Happy to be “on the board” at Hen of the Wood Restaurant

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Nothing says Happy Thanksgiving like the smell of Garlic in the kitchen

To celebrate the season and the turkeys rooting around the fields at the garlic farm, we thought we’d look into favorite garlic-infused holiday recipes. Turkey of course is the most popular dish, but we also looked at some vegetarian options (November 1st was World Vegan Day and more that 7.5 Million Americans are vegetarian).

Contrary to popular belief, turkey, when it is not basted in butter is a good source of lean protein, B vitamins, magnesium, and potassium. When it is basted in butter (one recipe we found uses garlic butter with sage and rosemary) it can be heaven, but let’s look at healthier, but equally delicious versions:

In this recipe, roasted garlic replaces most of the fat in the gravy and I love the onions under the turkey in this dish: Herb Rubbed Turkey with Roasted Garlic Gravy – from Epicurious.

Here is another terrific low-fat turkey recipe: Lemon-Garlic Roast Turkey & White-Wine Gravy – from Mysimplylife.com.

There is plenty to celebrate about marriage of rosemary and garlic. Here is a rosemary-garlic turkey recipe followed by an herbed garlic butter recipe:
This Rosemary-Garlic roast turkey recipe combines garlic, rosemary and olive oil into a thick, green paste. The paste is very versatile and can also be used to adorn roasted veggies, bread or even tofu.

Rosemary-Garlic roast turkey

Rosemary-Garlic Butter:
1/2 cup butter, softened (use margarine for a vegan version)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

This herb butter can be used to spice up veggies or baste meat.
And finally these Roasted Root Vegetables can stand on their own as a main entrée or can be served as a savory side: Roasted Root Vegetables: from Dr, Weils’ Blog.

For more garlic-infused vegetarian options try:
Giving Thanks for Vegetables, Not Turkey
A Vegan Chef Dishes Up Thanksgiving

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Wrapping Up the Garlic Season: Rotation, Cover Crops, Pigs, Chickens and Planting

Late fall is planting time at Green Mountain Garlic. Like tulips, garlic needs a cold period (under 40 degrees) in order to flourish the following year. Next year’s organic garlic crop is in the ground!  So we’re celebrating. It’s like putting the little ones to bed after a very long, eventful day.

Here’s how that “day” started: the garlic farm was originally an old hayfield, filed with quack grass. We now have the farm on a four-year rotation, which means that we plant the garlic in a different spot each year. In the off seasons, we plant cover crops -winter rye, oats, and hairy vetch. These cover crops add “free” symbiotically-fixed nitrogen to the system.

This “green manure” builds the soil with nitrogen-rich, organic matter: the oats winter kill and become mulch in the spring; the rye grows back each spring from deep roots that hold soil in place and prevent compaction; and hairy vetch is a great soil improver that grows nitrogen nodes in its roots. Planting these crops late in the season can capture some nutrients in the soil that would other wise be lost.

The pigs and chickens living on the garlic farm this year also contributed to our great soil quality. Both groups were kept in large, moveable solar-electric fenced pens, so we were able to distribute the wealth of their labors while keeping them safe and happy.  The pigs were good at their job, they contributed excellent organic fertilizer while rooting out quack grass tubers. The chickens were terrific as well, soils under their home range needed no further amendments.

Growing garlic is not difficult. Even if you are not a seasoned gardener, you can grow great garlic for your table if you start with great organic seed garlic. You don’t need pigs, chickens and crop rotation in order to grow your own garlic at home, but garlic loves a high pH  level of about 6 or 7. Have your soil tested if you’re not sure and add appropriate amendments.

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