If you have a garden you should be growing garlic!
Growing garlic is so much easier than it looks and rewards you with four amazing seasonal garlic products:
June to July — garlic scapes
July to August — fresh garlic bulbs
September to next year — dried garlic bulbs
I was really impressed by how easy garlic is to grow and care for. Planting takes place in late fall before the first frost. After the garlic is planted and mulched in you don’t really have to pay it any attention until it sprouts in spring. These tender green sprouts are known as spring garlic or green garlic. The spring garlic stalks resemble green onions and are cleaned easily by removing the outer skin. They are straight and narrow or may have a more pronounced bulb at the root end if the plant is more mature.
Spring garlic is deliciously spicy and herbaceous! It can be used in any recipe where you would use bulb garlic or fresh herbs. Even if you can’t grow your own spring garlic you may be lucky enough to find some at your local farmer’s market. It’s not around long though, so be sure to snatch some up!
Thinning the Garlic Bed
Last fall I purposefully planted my garlic closer together in this bed so that I could remove some sprouts to use in early spring. In this case I removed every other plant, giving the remaining garlic plants plenty of room to mature!
Harvesting Spring Garlic
Pull back the mulch from around the stem of the garlic plant. Using your fingers, gently loosen the dirt around each garlic stalk. Don’t be tempted to use a tool for this step. The garlic is very tender and will cut and bruise easily. Get your fingers down to the depth of the roots and gently lift the plants out. Try not to tug too hard on the greens of the plant. The stalks will break away if the soil is not properly dug away from the roots. Note that this is good advice for harvesting mature garlic as well!
Cleaning the Stalks
The stalks of the plant may have a slimy outer skin or parts of the original seed garlic still attached. Gently remove any loose or old layers by peeling them down toward the root end of the stalk. Wash the spring garlic in cool running water.
Wrap the root end of the garlic in a moistened paper towel and store it in an organic cotton produce bag in your refrigerator. It is best to eat spring garlic fresh within the first 5 to 7 days after harvesting.
Using Spring Garlic
The entire garlic plant is edible, although some of the tougher older leaves may not be palatable. I use the bottom two-thirds of the plant for recipes. The older tips of the leaves could most certainly be used in a court bouillon or stock.
Recipes for Spring Garlic