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Friday Rookie Topics 2012

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Friday Rookie Topics 2012

Post  ashort on 1/20/2012, 2:53 am

Ready for review:

Names: Garlic - Ajo (Spanish), Aglio (Italian), Ail (French), Allium sativum (scientific name)

Related plants: Onions, leeks, shallots - they are all members of the alliums family.

Common Varieties: California Early, California Late (both artichoke group), Silver Rose, Early Italian, Inchelium red, Chesnok Red, and elephant garlic (technically elephant garlic is not a garlic, rather a type of leek whose root bulbs creates cloves – but it is close enough to garlic that it is grown using the same methods)

Other varieties: There are hundreds of cultivars of garlic. They are divided into two major subspecies of garlic – hardnecks and softnecks. The difference has to do with the stem. Hardneck style garlic has a sturdy central stem that produces a scape (see below). Softnecks do not and are the type you usually see braided and in grocery stores. Garlic can be further divided into ten major groups. There are two softneck groups - artichoke and silver skin. Three groups that are hard necks bud exhibit softneck properties – creole, Asiatic and turban. There are five true hardneck groups – porcelain, purple striped, marbled purple striped, glazed purple striped, and rocambole

Culinary uses: The root bulbs are the primary reason for growing garlic. However, garlic provides two other common harvests. Small cloves are sometimes planted for “garlic greens” which are harvest at a very immature stage and resemble scallions. The scapes can also be harvested. The scapes are part of the central stalk that produces the flower. Garlic bulbs can be used in a variety of ways. An increasingly popular way is to roast the whole cloves – they end up with a nutty and slight sweetness unlike the other preparations. This is because the pungency normally associated with garlic comes from the mixing of two chemicals that happens when the garlic is cut. The heat of roasting changes the chemicals so that they are not able to create the compounds to be “garlicky”. Similarly, when using garlic in a sauté, let it rest for a minute or so after cutting in order to let the flavor develop better.

How to plant:
Plant the individual cloves about 2-3 inches deep. The “pointy” end should be pointed up and the flat end (that as the root end) down. Using larger cloves usually results in larger bulbs at harvest time. Spacing is as follows: 9/SF for standard planting. If you are planting small cloves for garlic greens, they can be printed up to about 100/SF. Elephant garlic is planted 4/SF.

When to Plant: Garlic can be planted almost anytime. However, the best time in the south, they grow best when planted in the fall and then harvested the following summer. In the northern states, they are planted in the early spring for a late fall harvest

Harvest information: It is important to harvest garlic at the correct time. If you wait too long, the bulbs will begin to separate. There is a bit of differentiation between softnecks and hardnecks here. Softnecks are like onions. When the tops starts to bend over and dry out stop watering at this point and then harvest a few days later. For hardnecks, watch the bottom few leaves, when they start turning brown, you are ready to harvest. When harvesting, loosen the soil and then pull the plant out of the ground. Give a shake to remove as much Mel’s Mix as possible. You do have to cure your cloves for storage.

Curing the Cloves: You can leave you put your cloves in the sun to cure for a couple of days. You want to get them off the ground so they can dry appropriately. Most importantly After about a week, you can clip off the leaves (don’t do this if you are planning on braiding your garlic). For hardnecks, you should clip the stem about a week after the leaves. Gently clean any remaining dirt off the garlic and store. You can braid the garlic like shown in this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7Xyj82oO4g
Make sure you save your biggest and best cloves to plant the next year. Over time, this will result increasingly better production.

History of Garlic: Garlic has been around for thousands of years, even being found in the tombs in Egypt. The origination of the species is most likely somewhere in Asia somewhere between Mongolia and the Caspian Sea. Since the modern varieties are so far removed from the wild, there is much uncertainty about the exact origins. Garlic was used as food, a condiment, or a medicinal. In Roman times it was common amongst the soldiers and peasants. It was not only peasant food, but also a therapeutic for the common folks – used in a variety of remedies from upset stomachs to antiseptics. Garlic is very important in the cuisine of numerous Middle Eastern countries as well as China and Korea.









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