Softneck Garlic

by Darius Van d’Rhys

Softneck garlics are well adapted to warmer climates. It is softneck garlic that you are likely to find in the grocery store, because softneck garlic stores and travels better than hardneck. The types of softneck garlic you are most likely to encounter are Artichokes (with a sub-group of Turbans) and Silverskins.

Artichoke Garlic
Artichoke garlics (sativums or softnecks) are the most commonly grown commercial garlic because they are easier to grow and produce larger bulbs than most other garlics. They store well and this is what you probably buy at the grocer’s. In fact, most people aren’t even aware that there is more than one kind of garlic.

Artichoke garlics are generally very large, and have a wide range of flavors with some like Simoneti and Red Toch being very mild and pleasant and others such as Inchelium Red and Susanville, have greater depth of flavor. Purple Cauldron (in the sub-group Asiatics, now considered a hardneck garlic) is much stronger and sticks around for a while. Chinese Purple (another hardneck Asiatic) is instantly hot!

The Turban sub-group of artichoke garlics tend to be the most colorful artichokes and have fewer cloves per bulb than the others. The turbans also harvest earlier and store less long than the other artichokes and a good bit stronger in taste as well. (I didn’t find much information on the turban garlics, sorry.)

Some Artichoke Garlic Varieties
Kettle River Giant’, giant bulbs, 10-15 cloves/bulb, early harvest, medium, stores 6-7 months.
Inchelium Red’ Harvests mid-season – stores 6-7 months. Grows very well in warm winter areas. In 1990 Rodale Kitchens, part of the parent organization of Organic Gardening magazine, sponsored a garlic tasting contest. Inchelium Red won. It usually has anywhere from 12 to 20 cloves and is large enough that even the interior cloves are generally of good size. Bulbs are usually over 2 and a half inches in diameter and will weigh several ounces each.
Red Toch’ Harvests early in season – stores 6-7 months. Semi-rich but very mellow. Grows very well in warm winter areas. It is not quite as mild as Chet’s and not quite as strong as Inchelium Red. Red Toch averages fairly large bulbs that are a little larger than Chet’s but not as large as Simoneti or Inchelium Red.
California Early’ Harvests Mid-late season – stores 6-7 months. This one of the two Gilroy cultivars is the one you’re least likely to find in the local supermarkets because it is processed into dried and pickled and otherwise processed garlic products. California Early is a little bigger and sweeter than California Late, which is definitely on the hot side. Cal Early is an excellent all- around general use garlic and a wonderful baker.
Applegate’ is a mild and mellow artichoke garlic and is a good garlic to grow in warm winter areas.
Early Red Italian’ Harvests early in season – stores 6-7 months. It has a semi-rich flavor and a little bite, but is still on the light side.
Lorz Italian’ An Heirloom Garlic. Excellent strong garlic for warm winter gardeners. Harvests mid season – stores 6-8 months.
Thermadrone from France, Harvests in early-mid season – stores 6-7 months.
Simoneti‘ Harvests in mid-season – stores about 6 months.
California Late’ Harvests Mid-late season – stores 6-7 months. One of the two cultivars you’re most likely to find in the local supermarkets, along with California Early. California Late is a little on the hot side and has more color. it is a prolific grower and a good commercial garlic
Siciliano Harvests mid season – stores about 6 months. Rich flavor, zesty medium pungency. Its richness makes it excellent for raw eating as in pesto or salsa.

Some Turban Artichoke Varieties
Chinese Purple’ Harvests VERY early in season – stores 5-6 months. Very strong garlic taste with a fierce heat.
Shantang Purple’ – Limited supply, Hot, 6-8 cloves/bulb, good for many climates.
Maiskij’ – This Turban garlic originated in Turkmenistan, one of those small, mountainous Islamic republics near Chechnia. The taste is medium strong, leaning toward being bold, but not overpowering.
Silverwhite’, almost mellow taste for 15 to 20 seconds before you experience an intense heat that lasts for about 30 to 45 seconds. Good to Fair for Warm Winter Areas, Harvests late season – stores 8-10 months.

Silverskin Garlic
Silverskins have silvery, white skins and are composed of many small cloves. They also have a nice sturdy neck that is easily braided. The flavor of Silverskins is usually stronger than Artichokes. ‘Nootka Rose‘ and ‘Rose du var‘ are both full-bodied Silverskins.

Silverskin garlics are in a class by themselves. They are the last garlics to mature and they store the longest. They also have a great range of taste, pungency, and size as well as time of maturity. No other garlics braid better than Silverskins and they will grow well in most of the USA.

S & H Silverskin has a musky, earthy taste with very little bite when eaten raw. Locati can be fiery hot. Silverwhite has a richness to it and seems almost mellow for 15 to 20 seconds before you experience an intense heat that lasts for about 30 to 45 seconds. Nootka Rose has that same richness but with only a medium heat. Silverskins have more cloves per bulb, on the average, than the artichokes and some, like Mexican Red Silver have a lot of tiny cloves while others, like S & H Silverskin and Silverwhite have almost all large cloves with very few small ones.

Some Silverskin Garlic Varieties
S & H Silverskin has a musky, earthy taste with very little bite when eaten raw.
Nootka Rose’ Heirloom from Washington State, rich, bold taste with medium heat, large mahogany cloves, 15-20 per bulb. , Fair for Warm Winter Areas, Long storing.
Locati’, can be fiery hot. Fair for Warm Winter Areas, 11-12 cloves/bulb. Harvests late season – stores 8-10 months.
Rose du Var’, bold, strong and long French garlic taste. 8-12 cloves/bulb Harvests late season – stores 8-10 months.
Other Silverskin varieties include ‘Mexican Red Silver’, ‘Sicilian Silver’ ,’Silver Rose’, and ’Mild French’.

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Fabulous Apple and Squash Recipe

Squash-and-Apple-Bake

Picture Courtesy of:  Can’t Stay Out Of The Kitchen

I have been making this since I got my first Betty Crocker cookbook as a child. My husband hates winter squash and yams but I love this recipe. It is really good. I use Sweet Mama, Kabocha and Uncle David’s Dakota Dessert squash, which ever is handy since I am not a fan of Butternut squash. A perfect blend of harvest fruits in the fall.

2 pounds butternut squash or other winter squash (see my choices above)
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/4 cup butter – melted
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon mace (You can use cinnamon and/or nutmeg instead)
2 baking apples, (golden delicious, granny smith etc) cored and cut into 1/2-inch slices

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut each squash in half and remove seeds and fibers; peel squash. Cut into 1/2-inch slices. (I find it easier to peel the squash once it is sliced into 1/2″ slices)

Stir together remaining ingredients except apples. Arrange squash in ungreased baking dish alternating with apple slices.

Sprinkle sugar mixture over top; cover with foil and bake 50 to 60 minutes or until squash is tender.

Eat Up!

Why Grow Garlic?

by Darius Van d’Rhys (darius) June 3, 2008

The first benefit to the home gardener is the opportunity to grow and use some of the magnificent garlic varieties seldom, if ever, found in the supermarkets and rarely even at farmer’s markets or roadside stands. Out of over 600 sub-varieties, only 2 are commonly found in grocery stores. If you like cooking and eating garlic, expand your repertoire!

The second benefit (besides eating the garlic) is the growing garlic has natural fungicide and pesticide properties. Garlic companion planting is especially beneficial to lettuce by deterring aphids, and to cabbage. Garlic oil is effective at repelling and even killing snails and slugs.

As well as protecting other plants, garlic can also improve their flavor. Beets and cabbage are reported to be good companions that benefit from this. However, not all companion planting with garlic is beneficial. Garlic doesn’t cooperate well with legumes, peas or potatoes so do not plant your garlic too near these.

ImageWhat Kind to Grow, and Where

Garlic isn’t just garlic, there are many different kinds of garlic and they’re almost all different in size, color, shape, taste, number of cloves per bulb, pungency and storage times.

Botanists classify all true garlics under the species Allium Sativum. There are two subspecies; Ophioscorodon, or hard-necked garlics (Ophios for short) and Sativum, or soft-necked garlics.
Hardnecks further divide into Rocambole, Purple Stripe, and Porcelain sub-groups although 2 more sub-groups have recently been added: Marbled Purple Stripe and Glazed Purple Stripe. Softnecks have 2 main groups: Artichokes and Silverskins. Artichoke garlics now include the Turban and Asiatic sub-groups. There is yet another group called Creole, long thought to be a sub-group of the Silverskins but the latest DNA studies show them in a separate class by themselves.


So, how do you decide what to grow? 
I have separate articles covering each of these groups following this article and you will find good information in them. One is a general overview, this one is on basics of growing and cooking garlic, and the ones on hardnecks, softnecks and Creoles will help you decide which type for your climate and which varieties for your taste buds.

Garlic is easy to grow. Great garlic is difficult to grow.

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Garlic developed in central Asia with long cold winters, damp cool springs and warm, dry summers. Since then it has been grown around the world and a few needs have changed. Varieties like Rocamboles still need those central Asian conditions. Porcelains and Purple Stripes are more tolerant but still won’t do well in a hot dry spring. Hardneck Rocamboles do poorly in warmer climates.

Garlic tolerates most soils but if you want excellent large and beautiful garlic, you need a healthy soil full of micronutrients and minerals. High concentrations of NPK fertilizers can kill off the healthy microorganisms living in the soil, as can chemical herbicides and pesticides. “If the government requires applicators to wear ‘protective’ clothing (boots, gloves, hoods and masks) to apply it, why would you want to eat it?” [1] Garlic really needs the minerals and micronutrients more than an abundance of NPK. The soil should have manure and compost added on a regular basis. Rock dusts and minerals can be added; they act like long-time slow-release fertilizers and the garden will continue to maintain fertility for years to come, with fewer applications eventually needed.

Garlic should be planted in the fall in the north. This gives time for sprouting roots to develop before the emerging plants die down with cold winter temperatures. After a few frosts but before the ground freezes hard in my Zone 5b, I cover my garlic bed with 6-8” of straw which helps prevent frost heave. When the ground begins to warm in the spring, I remove the straw so the sun can warm the emerging stalks. Sometimes the fall planted bulbs will sprout enough to send up green shoots before winter. That’s okay… they will die back and grow again in spring.

Garlic likes fertile, well-drained soil so that the bulb is above the water level and the roots deep into the moist soil. Plant the cloves root end down, about 4” deep and 6” apart in the north, and 2-3” deep in the south. Bubils (from the scapes) can be harvested and planted but they will take 2 or more years to produce a large bulb. Some vendors and growers recommend soaking individual cloves in water with bicarbonate of soda for a few minutes, and then dipped in rubbing alcohol (or 140 proof vodka) for 3-4 minutes to kill any pathogens. Use the largest cloves to grow the best bulbs for next year.

If your soil is healthy and fertile you may choose (or not) to add a foliar spray in the spring. A tablespoon each of molasses, seaweed and baking soda in a gallon of water makes a good spray used 2-3 times in spring. Do not use a foliar spray on dry plants, nor spray close to harvest. The leaves will become lush at the expense of the bulb.

When the tops just start to turn yellow/brown and fall over, gently dig the bulbs. There should still be some green inner leaves. When only about 8 green leaves remain, stop watering and let the soil begin to dry. After digging the bulbs, do not wash, just brush off loose dirt and store in dry shade for 2-4 weeks to cure. Treat them gently as they can bruise easily and thus not store well.Image

Store garlic warm (55-65ºF), dry (40-60% humidity) and in the dark to keep it dormant. Garlic is usually hung to dry and good air circulation is very important.

Here’s a photo journal of the whole process of preparing beds, planting, harvesting and storing:http://www.gourmetgarlicgardens.com/gardenyear.htm

Tips on Cooking with Garlic

When the cell walls in a garlic clove are cut, diced, chopped, crushed, etc., the cloves release allicin which gives garlic its smell and taste. Peeling cloves is tedious but you can easily peel them without breaking cell walls by soaking individual cloves in plain water for an hour or two, or by dropping them in boiling water for 60 seconds. When you want to add garlic to a dish, the larger the pieces, the milder will be the flavor. James Beard’s recipe for Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic is at the end of this article. It surprisingly has the barest hint of garlic due to long cooking of whole cloves.

The finer you cut garlic, the more allicin is released, creating a stronger flavor. For a bold, assertive garlic taste, finely chop or crush the garlic. Let it rest for a few minutes, and then add it just before cooking is complete.

A good health practice to fight E. coli found in supermarket meats is to rub crushed raw garlic all over the meat. Crushed raw garlic is a powerful antibiotic that can kill E. coli, but it will not kill the bacteria INSIDE the meat. To do that, you must cook the meat thoroughly.

I personally don’t find garlic breath objectionable. However, sunflower seed oil and parsley taken together will drastically reduce or even eliminate primary garlic breath. After eating a garlicky meal, eat a spoonful of sunflower seeds and a sprig of fresh parsley and you will find your breath much less offensive to others.

When you cook garlic long and slow, it becomes creamy and less strong. Most garlic odor on your hands can be eliminated by rubbing them on a piece of stainless steel flatwear under running water.

Footnotes:
[1] http://www.gourmetgarlicgardens.com/growing.htm

Photo Credits: Hood River Garlic Farm http://www.hoodrivergarlic.com

Read my other garlic articles here:
Why would anyone grow A Stinking Rose? For Garlic of Course!
http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/613
Hardneck Garlic for Northern Climates
http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/1030/
Softneck Garlic for Southern Climates
http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/1031/
Creole Garlics
http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/1032/

 

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic
by James Beard

2/3 cup olive oil
8 chicken drumstick and thighs (or 16 of either)
4 ribs celery, cut in long strips
2 medium onions, chopped
6 sprigs parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon, or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2 cup dry vermouth
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
40 cloves garlic, unpeeled

1. Put the oil in a shallow dish, add the chicken pieces, and turn them to coat all sides evenly with the oil.

2. Cover the bottom of a heavy 6-quart casserole with a mixture of the celery and onions, add the parsley and tarragon, and lay the chicken pieces on top. Pour the vermouth over them, sprinkle with salt and pepper, add a dash or two of nutmeg, and tuck the garlic cloves around and between the chicken pieces. Cover the top of the casserole tight with aluminum foil and then the lid (this creates an air-tight seal so the steam won’t escape). Bake in a 375°oven for 1 1/2 hours, without removing the cover.

3. Serve the chicken, pan juices, and whole garlic cloves with thin slices of heated French bread or toast. The garlic should be squeezed from the root end of its papery husk onto the bread or toast, spread like butter, and eaten with the chicken.

 

About Darius Van d’Rhys

I have a ‘growing my own food’ obsession that comes from my overlapping interests in cooking, nutrition and gardening. I am also a “teacher”, a writer, a builder… and a craftsperson and… and… and many other things, LOL. In fact, I guess I am a generalist, and a Seeker. I live in the southern Appalachian Mountains on a hillside with a creek in front, and drive a 15 year old truck I lovingly call “My Farmer’s Ferrari.” Editor’s note: Darius passed away on March 19, 2014. Her readers will miss her greatly and we are thankful for her legacy of wonderful articles.

Meet Mr. Snow, a Lovely, Light Yellow Tomato With a Sweet, Delicate Taste

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This is Mr. Snow in the wild.

Mr-Snow-cut-81217

This is Mr. Snow on a cutting board about to be devoured.

One of the Dwarf Tomato Project varieties that I tried this year. It is astoundingly sweet. They are medium size, measuring about 3 inches across, as with most heirlooms, the size can vary widely.

It sits in a very large pot near my arbor and is doing well in spite of the heat. And the shade. However, it isn’t getting as much light as it would like and is producing, albeit not heavily. It takes a lot of energy to produce fruit. As my trees grow in my yard I am realizing that what was once full sun is no longer. I’d like to see how it performs in the ground out in the garden where it will get full sun.

I was surprised at how juicy and sweet this one tastes. The color is charming, a very light yellow. It would look pretty in a salsa or in a mixed color tomato salad plate as shown here. Well, it’s really a cutting board, with cucumbers from my garden (Beth Alpha) but you get the gist.

mr-snow,-fred's-tye-dye-and---81217

The other two tomatoes are Fred’s Tye Dye and Tye Dye which I will showcase in a future post.

 

 

 

Largest Tomato I’ve Ever Laid Eyes On! Kellogg’s Breakfast

No kidding, would you look a the size of that tomato! Compared to the dog anyways.

Kellogg Breakfast & Scout

This is a photo sent to me by one of my customers. Janet Y. It is a Kellogg’s Breakfast, one of our customer favorites. the second picture shows the scale with a ruler. Almost 5 inches! Wow! I see BLT’s in her future. Plus it is only the first part of August. Ours are just now starting to color up.

Kellogg Breakfast

The story goes like this: Ironically enough. this tomato is not named for the breakfast cereal developer of fame, Will Keith Kellogg, but for a humble gardener, Darrell Kellogg, a railroad supervisor in Redford, Michigan. He received his seed from a friend in West Virginia where it originated.

Sweet and meaty, he liked the tomato so much he saved the seed and began to breed the variety. A brilliant orange and nearly blemish free, they can grow to weigh a pound or more.

Kellogg’s breakfast tomato was voted one of the best tomatoes by Sunset magazine.

Try Something New: Dwarf Fred’s Tye Dye Tomato

fred's-tye-dyeMeet Fred’s Tye Dye. I don’t know who Fred is but I love his tomato. This is another tomato out of the Dwarf Tomato Project. It is the most beautiful color, hopefully you can see the stripes in this picture, it is from my garden. The taste was delicious. The growth habit very manageable as you can see below. This is a mid season producer and is one of the taller dwarfs although mine didn’t get any taller than 4 feet. It was one of the first ones to color up. As with any heirloom, size varies from baseball to softball size. One of the other things I like about the dwarfs is their stocky stems and their rugose, regular leaves, very crinkly and dark green.

fred's-tye-dye2

Over all, I was impressed with the tomatoes I grew out of the Dwarf Tomato Project with the exception of one.

Try Something New: Big Cheef Dwarf Tomato

big-cheef.jpgYes, these came from a dwarf tomato plant. Part of the Dwarf Tomato Project. It was very tasty and produced an ample supply of tomatoes for such a small plant. Staked, in a large pot, it was maybe 4 feet. Perfect for someone who wants to grow slicing tomatoes without taking up much room, such as a deck or apartment balcony. A very pretty dark pinkish fruit.

Information about the Dwarf Tomato Project. I’d put the link to their website but apparently the server has gone down.

This remarkable project was started in 2005 by Patrina Nuske-Small of Australia and Craig LeHoullier of Raleigh, North Carolina, and by February 2011 it had over 250 volunteers growing out various tomato crosses and segregation lines, selecting for new dwarf varieties with the best taste and unique color characteristics. This project is still continuing, and it will yield many more tomato varieties with heirloom taste and perfect for space-challenged home gardeners.

This is the very first all volunteer world-wide tomato breeding project in documented gardening history. None involved are botanists or horticulturists – just avid gardeners with a keen interest in learning about tomato genetics or discovering interesting new tomatoes.

All Tomato Dwarf Project varieties are associated with the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI)

The OSSI Pledge – “ You have the freedom to use these OSSI seeds in any way you choose. In return, you pledge not to restrict others’ use of these seeds or their derivatives by patents, or other means, and to include this pledge with any transfer of these seeds or their derivatives.” The seed packets that you share or sell should include this information.

Mucho Nacho Jalapeños and Emerald Fire Jalapeños -A Germinators Dream! (at least this year)

Every once in a while you meet a plant that you really like. This year, mine is the Mucho Nacho Jalapeño and the Emerald Fire Jalapeño, Peppers are notoriously hard to germinate, especially the superhots (Carolina Reapers, Ghost and Trinidad Scorpions) and the hot (Tabasco, Habanero, Serrano, Hungarian Yellow Wax etc.) to mildly hot (Jalapeños, Numex Big Jim, Anaheims, Poblanos etc.) Some of the hot peppers can take up to 4 weeks or more to germinate and then if you get 50% you think you are doing pretty good.

 

mucho-nacho-jalapeno2Mucho Nacho is a new one for me this year. It is supposed to be hotter, fatter, longer, more prolific, well, you get the picture, than a regular Jalapeño. It was the first one to germinate and it was very happy, vibrant and healthy. Lush. I can’t say enough about it.

emerald-fire-jalapeno

The Emerald Fire was a close second. Germination on both of these were close to 90 – 95% which is really good. Nice strong stems, beautiful true leaves, easy to handle when transplanting into 3.5” pots.

For those of you who germinate your own seeds in a greenhouse you can understand how happy I was to handle these guys. Some plants, especially flowers practically require magnifying glassed and tweezers!

jalapeno-green-pepperMucho Nacho Jalapeños – 68-70 Days

An impressive Jalapeño from Mexico, large, 4” fruits are fatter, thicker, heavier, hotter, and up to a full inch longer than regular Jalapeños. They start off green and mature to red. Vigorous and prolific, they set heavy loads about a week earlier than is typical of Jalapeños.

ad8bf754-f0b0-446d-992d-573a80710745_1000Emerald Fire Jalapeño – 90 Days

These hot peppers are good for salsa, pickling, grilling, and stuffing, Extra-large, thick-walled, crack-resistant peppers, plump and delicious. Emerald Fire is very prolific and there will be enough peppers to share with your friends and family!

Winner of a 2015 All-America Selection, Emerald Fire is compact enough for patio containers, but may need some support to hold up all the peppers! Easy to grow, standing up to heat, humidity, and refuses to crack. Long season but worth the wait!

Male And Female Peppers: Fact Or Fiction? – PepperScale

Great article from PepperScale.This is in response to a post I saw on Facebook this morning.

A plant world sex scandal… Do bell peppers have a gender? Some say they do. The idea has been around for a while but only recently has it caught traction. According to the theory, there are distinct male and female peppers and the gender indicates whether a bell pepper has more seeds or whether it […]

Source: Male And Female Peppers: Fact Or Fiction? – PepperScale

Finally, 6 of 6 Zucchini Recipes: Zucchini Nut Bread Cookies

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These cookies, cousins of zucchini bread, are perfect for packing up as picnic fare -even if the picnic table is right in your kitchen. The sweet cream-cheese filling can be sandwiched between two cookies if that is what you choose, kind of like a modified moon pie. I personally loved them with no filling. Very good. And I could tell myself I was getting my vegetables and therefore, it was healthier! Oh the delusions we entertain!

Prep Time 25 minutes • Total Time 2 hours

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Coarse salt

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature  (for the cookies AND the filling)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup finely grated zucchini
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Filling
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt into a bowl.

Beat 1 stick butter and the sugars until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.

Beat flour mixture into butter mixture. Mix in zucchini, oats, and walnuts. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop (about 2 tablespoons), drop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake until edges are golden, about 17 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

Filling: Beat together remaining 1/2 stick butter, the cream cheese, and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Spread 1 heaping tablespoon filling onto the flat side of 1 cookie, and sandwich with another cookie. Repeat with remaining filling and cookies.