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Garlic Season


Dignan
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I seem to always be purchasing garlic that has begun to germinate. Sometimes it's obvious just looking at a head that sprouting has begun, but other times I can't tell until I've cut into it (which I just did, into a big beautiful head I'm roasting, only to have a dozen green clove eyes staring up at me). The puny heads I always have to choose from are annoying enough, without they've already begun to sprout.

I suspect it's partly a case of transit and slow turnover by my purveyors, but the question is: Is there a time that I can expect the best garlic, and if so when is it?

Edit: it was a "dozen" green cloves, not "dozed" green cloves.

Edited by Dignan (log)
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I've been talking to a few farmers here in CT about garlic.

It's planted in the autumn(like other bulbs) and starts to sprout garlic grass and flowers in early summer.

I believe they harvest the bulbs in mid to late July thru late summer/falll(depending on the season of course-last summer being the worst in years!)

There's usually a drying or curing process after picking them for about 3 weeks, then they're ready to eat.

I'd like to hear what the best way(s) to store garlic are. Room temp, fridge, freezer? Sometimes those braids really get dried out.

And DON'T store in olive oil-unless it's refrigerated! There could be a risk of botulism.

JANE

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I hate this time of year for garlic--all the garlic I can find is old and sprouting. We don't get fresh crop from local growers here in Colorado until August or so, but the stores must get it in fresh from out of state more like June, maybe, I'm thinking.

Fred Bramhall

A professor is one who talk's in someone else's sleep

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Thank you for starting this thread, Dignan. I am also sick of lousy garlic. Even my favorite Asian grocery has failed me lately. It WAS better than what is in the supermarket but not those plump and juicy cloves that I yearn for. Now I know to go on a garlic search in May or June. Sometimes they get in this purplish skinned garlic that has nice big cloves. I usually roast a whole half sheet pan full and store the roasted garlic in jars in the freezer. Now I am wondering about freezing it without roasting.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I have had some success with mincing garlic and then freezing it in mini ice cube trays. Once it is frozen, I seal the cubes in freezer bags. Then I can just take from the freezer and use when the fresh garlic is not good. If I'm cooking a hot dish, I don't thaw the garlic first, just throw it in.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I have had some success with mincing garlic and then freezing it in mini ice cube trays.  Once it is frozen, I seal the cubes in freezer bags.  Then I can just take from the freezer and use when the fresh garlic is not good.  If I'm cooking a hot dish,  I don't thaw the garlic first, just throw it in.

Just straight minced garlic? No freezing medium, like some water? Does it "cube" that way?

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yes, just straight garlic. Mince it fairly fine and pack it tightly into the cube trays. The little cube trays not the regular size ones. Unless of course you want to use that much garlic in a single dish :biggrin: . I got the idea when I received these little ice cube trays with our RV.. I couldn't figure out why anyone would want such small ice cubes :rolleyes: I use my deep freezer because it freezes faster, and put the tray about half way down the freezer. Leave for an hour then wrap in freezer bags.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Even my favorite Asian grocery has failed me lately. It WAS better than what is in the supermarket but not those plump and juicy cloves that I yearn for.

I think I need to find a new source. I've tried each of the local big chains, and the Whole Foods and Central Market. And the heads are so darn puny. That's why I was excited (and subsequently disappointed) by these until I cut into them. At least they remained good-sized heads.

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Not in olive oil?? I had noticed that it ferments a little...

I keep some in vinegar, mainly because I like watching the cloves slowly turn blue.

It also is VERY useful to have a small jar of garlic cloves in soy sauce, preferably with a little sweet sake (mirin) added. After a good long while, the thinly sliced cloves make a nice addition to the beer snacks, and the soy sauce is a very handy seasoning.

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Been feeling garlic-deprived as well, until....

I was at my local Stop & Shop supermarket here in Jersey 2 days ago & they had a heap of really good looking heads with firm feeling cloves. Bought one. Made linguini fini con aglio e olio last night. My senses had not betrayed me; superbly fresh garlic - ah, the crunch, the juice, the aroma, the transluscence when you sautee it...... :smile:

I have no idea where this crop came from of course. That's one of the things I hate about supermarkets (apart from Whole Foods), we are so divorced from the sources of our food.

Anyway, if you're near a Stop & Shop and craving some really good garlic, take a look! You might get lucky like I did!

P.S. These were not overly large heads, it was the evident freshness that caught my eye. I'll take quality over size any day.

Edited by ghostrider (log)

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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I've been talking to a few farmers here in CT about garlic.

It's planted in the autumn(like other bulbs) and starts to sprout garlic grass and flowers in early summer.

I believe they harvest the bulbs in mid to late July thru late summer/falll(depending on the season of course-last summer being the worst in years!)

There's usually a drying or curing process after picking them for about 3 weeks, then they're ready to eat.

I'd like to hear what the best way(s) to store garlic are. Room temp, fridge, freezer? Sometimes those braids really get dried out.

And DON'T store in olive oil-unless it's refrigerated! There could be a risk of botulism.

Garlic farming is just starting to catch on, here in the east. Hardneck varieties are what the farms grow.

Probably 95 percent of what you see in most markets, with the little shoots coming out, are softneck varieties, of which have very poor storing qualities. Seed Garlic can be obtained in September thru October from mail order sources, or better yet, seek out a garlic farm in your area.

Hardnecks come in many varieties, and are mostly named for the regions of the world from which they originated.

One great spot to obtain and taste many varieties here in the east is at the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival.

HVGF

Two years ago, I planted a little less than thirty pounds of garlic in my home garden, when harvested in August, I weighed out at a little less than 75 lbs. of nice healthy bulbs.

Storage was in a cool, dark area of my home, and it lasted till February without very much degradation of flavor. So roughly six months.

Speak to your local Home Extension office regarding specific planting requirements for your area.

woodburner

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The best time of year for garlic is during the North Plains garlic festival:

http://www.funstinks.com/

I do find Asian grocers more consistent (and cheaper).

Edited by ExtraMSG (log)
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Probably 95 percent of what you see in most markets, with the little shoots coming out, are softneck varieties, of which have very poor storing qualities.

Softneck garlic has a significantly longer shelflife than hardneck.

From the University of Minnesota extension service:

Another disadvantage of hardneck varieties is that they do not store well and may either start to form roots or start to dry out within a few months after harvest.

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Probably 95 percent of what you see in most markets, with the little shoots coming out, are softneck varieties, of which have very poor storing qualities.

Softneck garlic has a significantly longer shelflife than hardneck.

From the University of Minnesota extension service:

Another disadvantage of hardneck varieties is that they do not store well and may either start to form roots or start to dry out within a few months after harvest.

I stand corrected.

woodburner

Edited by woodburner (log)
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So, is that purplish skinned garlic a softneck then? I don't recall having all that much problem with it sprouting.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Depends... There are lots of purple skinned garlics, some softneck, some hardneck - if there is a single ring of cloves its hardneck, if there are smaller cloves inside the ring of larger cloves it's softneck.

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Depends... There are lots of purple skinned garlics, some softneck, some hardneck - if there is a single ring of cloves its hardneck, if there are smaller cloves inside the ring of larger cloves it's softneck.

AH HA! That makes me wonder if I have ever seen hardneck. We have a pretty dismal selection here. We usually see the "white stuff" and the "purple stuff". Since Houston doesn't have a decent farmer's market (well... we have a small one trying to start) we don't get anything that merits a variety name. Well... maybe Whole Foods or Central Market does but that is "in town" and I rarely get there. Even Fiesta doesn't advertise varieties, which I find surprising.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I've only seen hard neck garlic once here in Austin - at Central Market about a month ago. Picked up a few heads, and haven't looked lately to see if they still had some. I've given up veggie gardening - only grow herbs for consumption, but the quality of the bulb made me wish I grew some....

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Depends... There are lots of purple skinned garlics, some softneck, some hardneck - if there is a single ring of cloves its hardneck, if there are smaller cloves inside the ring of larger cloves it's softneck.

AH HA! That makes me wonder if I have ever seen hardneck. We have a pretty dismal selection here. We usually see the "white stuff" and the "purple stuff". Since Houston doesn't have a decent farmer's market (well... we have a small one trying to start) we don't get anything that merits a variety name. Well... maybe Whole Foods or Central Market does but that is "in town" and I rarely get there. Even Fiesta doesn't advertise varieties, which I find surprising.

There is a world of taste difference between soft and hard, with most of the hard varieties having much more of a garlic, bite.

Also, I find the hard varieties take better to roasting, and then spreading on a fresh baguette. Normally after a 30 minute roast in the oven, a hardneck will start to waift a purley pleasant aroma, and in about 15 minutes more, it will be ready to be plucked from the heat, with each clove turning to almost a paste like consistency.

Look for varieties such as Rocambole, Purple Stripe and Siberian. But there are plenty more to choose from.

woodburner

Garlic in Texas

Edited by woodburner (log)
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Thanks a lot for giving me information on the unobtainable. :raz::biggrin:

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Thanks a lot for giving me information on the unobtainable. :raz:   :biggrin:

fifi,

Just about anything is obtainable: for a price! LOL!

Buying Hard Neck Garlic

melkor is correct:

Softneck varieties are what you see in the stores. Hard neck contains more moisture so it doesn’t keep as long as soft neck. Commerical farms usually harvest them in September, pile them high in storage and dish them out until the next year. What you're seeing in most stores are from what was harvested last fall.

Anyone seriously interested in growing them should check out this Allium Forum.

I'm growing about 13 different varieties of heirloom garlic for the first time myself.

The absolute, best book on the topic of growing garlic is Growing Great Garlic: The Definitive Guide for Organic Gardeners and Small Farmers It is highly regardeded as the source for all information concerning garlic.

For pictures of purple stripe, hard neck, and soft neck (aka artichoke) varieties of garlic, look here.

If you want to see a picture of some incredibly fresh garlic fresh from a home grower, look here.

Here is a place with an amazing variety.

And this is the place that originally promoted the awareness of specialty garlics not found in stores: Filaree Farm They probably have the greatest selection of garlic varieties in the US and the website has plenty of information explaining the differences between them all.

Your best bet to obtain fresh hard neck garlic is to frequent your local farmers market check here for those in your area.

:smile:

Edited by mudbug (log)
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Your best bet to obtain fresh hard neck garlic is to frequent your local farmers market check here for those in your area.

:smile:

And if you click on those maps you will find that Houston does not have a legitimate farmer's market. I am not kidding. The one just starting up in the Heights is struggling with the city health department and has yet to attract a bunch of farmers. But we keep hoping. :sad:

Those are great links. I may have to grow my own and I will when I get a garden back.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I hate this time of year for garlic--all the garlic I can find is old and sprouting. We don't get fresh crop from local growers here in Colorado until August or so, but the stores must get it in fresh from out of state more like June, maybe, I'm thinking.

Feb. for garlic is tough, but here in CA and I hope other states too green garlic is available. Although it's different in some ways I find it can be used in many of the same places 'regular' garlic cloves might be used later in the season.

Green Garlic Photo

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