Garlic’s third season! Oh, Can you taste the deliciousness all year long?
The first season is about the wonderful garlic shoots that can be pulled from young garlic started from the bulbils. These are like green onions with the flavor of garlic. When separated each year, these bulbils grow into the cloves we know and love. By the third year of growth, the head of garlic is ready.
Although garlic, Allium sativum, takes several years to grow from a small bulbil to a head of garlic, each year has a ‘second’ season. The second season is the scapes that appear in June. The scapes are a sweet version of garlic. Savory and sweet. The must be harvested so the energy of the plant is transferred into the forming the bulbs of the garlic. These scapes are an underused produce item in our summer cooking.
The third season follows quickly after the scapes and begins with the harvest in late July/early August. After a month of curing, the garlic is ready for winter storage.
Garlic is a wonderful seasoning, both fresh and dried. What would pasta sauce be without tons of garlic? Can you even imagine Scampi without garlic? Garlic bread! Oh my! Want to make everyone hungry in your house? Sauté some garlic in olive oil and butter. You will get compliments simply from the garlic and olive oil cooking!
It is a great addition to many foods. It is a staple in our house. We grow lots of garlic. What we don’t replant or use fresh by springtime, gets dried, ground and becomes part of our seasoning mixes.
The third, winter season of garlic is also about the benefit it provides for us. While seasoning all of our winter comfort foods, garlic also offers a boost to our immune system. Garlic has many benefits that include cardiovascular, antioxidant and can help modulate blood sugar.¹ Fresh garlic offers the most benefits. As Maria Noël-Groves states in her book, Body into Balance, “Eating or applying raw garlic wards off the modern-day vampires like bacterial, viral and fungal pathogens, parasites, and even biting insects, while strengthening your immune function and response to these invaders”. Who wouldn’t want that support in the winter season?
Garlic is so versatile, it can be added to most of our winter dishes, included in a protein shake and just eaten on a piece of toast in the morning. Read on, it really is good!
To make fresh garlic easy to clean there are a few tricks that anyone can learn to use. Most folks have seen the use of the side of a large knife blade to hit the individual clove to loosen the skins. If you only have one or two cloves to clean that method works well and it is fast. When you want to clean many cloves of garlic that takes a while. I use a silicone tube to get those skins to come off quickly. I purchased it from Gratergirl.com, along with the best garlic grater I have ever owned. You put several cloves into the silicone tube and roll it on the counter pushing down very firmly, roll it back and forth several times, the skins break loose and cloves come out cleaned! So simple. If you need to grate garlic, use the ceramic grater disk and you won’t be disappointed. In a matter of seconds, you will have grated garlic like no other. It is much easier to use and clean than a garlic press.
Raw garlic does have a bite to it. Being hard, it needs to be finely minced or softened to add to many dishes. Most people use raw garlic in casseroles, soups and other dishes they are making. Have you ever had roasted garlic on toast? It is wonderful! Now, the raw garlic has a bite, but to make garlic sweet and savory, it needs to be roasted. This is the garlic that is best on toast. There are many recipes out there on how to roast a whole head of garlic. Have you tried it? It works and tastes great, but it is a mess to get those cloves out of the garlic head.
Here is my version of roasted garlic and I think it’s a little easier, although not as impressive as seeing that roasted head of garlic. Whichever you choose, both work well and taste just as good.
Here is a simple and easy way to roast garlic.
You need Garlic & Olive oil.
Turn on your oven to 350ºF.
Break apart as many cloves of garlic that fit into your roasting dish in a single layer.
Clean the skins, using the silicone tube. This takes about 4 minutes to do 4 heads of garlic.
Place the cleaned cloves of garlic in the roasting dish .
Drizzle with olive oil and stir to coat all the cloves. Cover.
Place in preheated oven and roast for about 15-30 minutes or until they can be easily mashed with a fork. Remove and cool or eat warm. Store uneaten roasted cloves, covered in the fridge for a week to use as needed.
Roasted garlic’s sweetness is great to use to make garlic bread, spread on toast with some cream cheese. Add it to dips, spread on pizza crust before you add the sauce. Let your imagination lead you to some delicious and healthy recipes for the winter months. Actually, why stop there, roasted garlic is great anytime of the year. For that matter try some grilled garlic scapes in June! Yahoo! Enjoy!
For more about Garlic and the Allium family, Read by Blog, “Chives, Onions & Garlic”.
¹Body into Balance by Maria Noël-Groves
Maria is a Clinical Herbalist in practice in New Hampshire. To purchase her books, visit her fantastic website: WintergreenBotanicals.com