Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Hard and Soft (neck) Of It All...

Warmer weather arrived for a brief visit over the weekend. Warm enough to drag the plastic laundry baskets of thousands of left over garlic that didn't make it into the garlic field this past fall, out to the front porch for a breath of fresh air and a sorting out.

With the baskets full sitting in the room just of the kitchen and constantly smelling garlic 24/7 makes it difficult not to *think garlic*, want to eat garlic, cook with garlic, etc. Garlic is a tricky little messenger that way ;o)--as in, "'s not too early in the day to have some of me....."

I mean, really. It's lunch time somewhere, even if it is only 9:23 a.m. and I'm consuming roasted garlic/potato/cheddar/bacon/corn chowder. (When they come out with a savory garlic breakfast cereal, I am all in. Hmmm...I think they call that *chex mix*, and when taken with orange juice, at breakfast, makes for a dandy start to the day ;o))

Anywho...while it's a shame when time doesn't allow for all garlic cloves to be planted, on the plus side, with so much garlic at our finger tips next to the kitchen, we ate far more garlic than usual this winter. I would like to think that is why I escaped most of the kid germs floating about the house the entire winter. A miracle! Containing vitamin C, it helps boost our immunity naturally, fights off high blood pressure and reduces fat cell production! Gotta love that. Chopping the garlic and letting it sit ahead of cooking time increases its health benefits, *activating* all the good juju in it. Try chopping a bunch ahead of time and placing in an airtight container in the fridge, removing to room temp when you need it, which makes cooking prep time much faster. Hard or soft neck, it's all good.

Out on the porch for the sorting event, it was the garlic squeeze-fest, seeing which varieties made it through the winter and which didn't.  Most of the Music and German Red hard necks were quite dried out, or spongy, with green shoots peeking out the tops and tiny root toes sticking out the bottom. They were fully aware it was time to go in the ground for spring planting. But, since we are fall planters, the ones unsuitable for cooking went to the recycle bin, after a good squeeze (garlic hug) to check to see if they were still fresh enough for use, prior to their toss.Some of the soft neck varieties like Red Toch were fresh and hard as rocks still, good for almost a year for shelf life. These tasty morsels will get us through to harvest time in June when the fresh garlic will be plentiful again.

Several thousand garlic squeezes later, my hands and arms were in a bit of distress. Embarrassed to say that here it is 4 days later, and I till feel like I was in a boxing ring or did some kind of push-ups marathon. My muscles tell me that this fall, when we plant, to make sure we get in the ground all the garlic we need to ahead of time!

Not that I don't like sharing my house with the garlic gang, or giving them all squeezes, but...the moral of the story is that it's good to plant both hard and soft neck garlic in your garlic patch, to have the variety of flavors, but to also have the longer shelf life that soft neck garlic offers, once the hard neck has done its thing.

Once you grow your own garlic and run out of fresh, and are forced back to the grocery store to use the typically tasteless, imported, expensive garlic they have available, (UGH!) brings a big wake-up call, as in Hello! you need to either grow more garlic, so there's more to eat over the winter, or you need to grow hard and soft neck to get you through to the new harvest.

Well, it's lunch time somewhere, and speaking of roasted tastes really good squozed out on crackers....



Cheers from the garlic patch...

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