Garden, Plant, Cook!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Garlic Harvest and "Made Over" Artichoke Stalks, plus a Lavender Festival.

Dear Folks,

This morning I harvested my garlic.  This year (actually October 1st last year) I decided to try elephant garlic for 'real' (I've grown it sporadically in the past).  I had picked up several heads while in California last year and through them into the crisper with the saved garlic from last year's harvest.

I think they did pretty good.  I was also surprised by the 'bulbets' semi-attached or attached to the main sides of the elephant garlic.

In the picture from left to right as you look at it is:  purple glazer regular garlic, the elephant garlic 'bulbets' in the container and the elephant garlic.

Some background on garlic, what I planted and elephant garlic.

The purple glazer is my favorite - I like the flavor, nice without being fire-starter spicey.  I saved mostly small heads for replanting and decided on a new bed with more sun this growing season so most of the heads are smallish.  Besides the starting size, I think some of the up/down heat/cool of last fall may have had something to do with the size.  I'm going to sun dry some of the smallest ones so I have dried garlic for grinding and using.

The little bulbets of the elephant garlic are new to me, but not completely surprising.  I've saved the flower-produced bulbets of the purple glazer and replanted.  They need 2 years to get to head producing growth pattern so I will leave them in the ground and hope for nice sized heads next year.

Both regular garlic (Allium sativum) and elephant garlic (Allium empeloprasum) are members of the onion family.  Elephant garlic is not actually a "garlic" but rather a Leek on Steriods, and has a milder (some think too mild) garlic flavor.  You can't see the leaves in the picture, but they are 'strappy' like leek and could be used to flavor foods.  In fact, even the stalk and leaves of either plant, which are generally disposed of after harvest, can be used to flavor soup, stews, and broths.

Hang your garlic to dry in the shade until the outside is papery - they will store will for a couple of months in your kitchen,  For longer term storage, place in a cardboard box in the crisper drawer of the frig.  This is also the way I store the heads I plant to split and re-plant next October 1st.  Do not store moisture containing vegetables in the same crisper - the moisture will case the bulbs to rot.

. . .

Next Up Artichoke Plants - all those leaves and edible flower heads. - "Made Over Artichoke Stalks.

Made Over is an old fashioned term for using left overs.  Now a days it refers to lowering the calorie content of a popular dish.

I like the old fashioned version because I'm always trying to find ways to use as much of a plant as possible.  I compost every paring from garden/produce that I can, but I would like to find ways to use as much of the 'parings' as food.  I save celery bottoms (when I don't replant them) and carrot bottom and tops, the peels of onions, woody parts of herbs etc. for making broths to make soups.

I've been busy harvesting the artichoke flowers and boiling and then marinating (like the marinated hearts you buy in the stores).  I also just froze some after boiling for use later in the year.

I've wondered about those huge artichoke leaves - until some wonderful person on the Valley Permaculture Alliance made mention of using artichoke leaves like cardoon leaves (the artichoke is related).  Then one wonderful cook posted on the subject about taking the celery looking artichoke leaf stalk and cleaning, dicing and cooking it up and voila - a wonderful addition to salads, soups and stews.  I am sharing the link below so you can see what she made.

I went right out and cut some stalks.  I pared the leaves from the stalks (some of them are 3 feet long even after you pare the leaves off.  I used the peeler to get any particularly stringy areas of the back of the rib (it really does look like a giant celery stalk) and then diced them up.  I tasted them - the notes said they were bitter raw - oh yes, quite bitter.  Filled a pot with salted water brought it to a rolling boil, dropped them in and cooked for 10-15 minutes (I done a couple of batches now - you want still crunchy not soggy), drained, cooled and tasted and was very, very pleased with the taste.  I call it "delicate" artichoke heart flavor.  It has been described as nutty maybe hazelnut - bottom line I call it wonderful.  I've added it to many salads now.  I may trying freezing some of the next batch just to see how well they stand up to freeze/thaw conditions.  I'm hooked on the "made over" artichoke stalk food.

The picture shows some leaves some trimmed stalk, some pared stalk and the diced stalk ready for boiling.  The color changes very little after boiling.

I did try even more made over by trying to create a green broth base from all the parings, but it came out bitter so I have to figure out what I did wrong.  Some folks were able to take more of the parings and create a flavorful vegetable broth base, so I'm assuming it was how I did mine.  More research needed :-)

Here is the link for the discussion on the Valley Permaculture Alliance site.  You can read any posts on the site, but if you want to participate in the discussions you need to join (free and easy) and become a member - I strongly encourage any of you in the valley (or similar desert climates) to join the discussions on gardening and cooking.

. . .

Next Up A trip to a Lavender Festival in June.

Folks, Promenade Travel out of Sun City has put together an over-night bus trip to the Lavender Festival at Red Rock Ranch in Concho, Arizona.  I am scheduled to go and provide some Q&A on the trip up.  I've been trying to make this trip for the last couple of years and something always came up.  Registration and payment are required ahead of time (as with most events they need a certain number to make it a 'go' and also can only accommodate a certain number on the bus).

Promenade has been doing these kinds of bus excursions for quite a while - I went on a day trip to Southern AZ wine country a couple of years ago and the whole trip was handle very well.

For all questions and registration use the contact info on the flyer - I am not involved in putting this together - I get to enjoy the trip and answer lavender questions :-)

Have a great day!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady