Garlic harvesting is in full swing and we are loving it. This is a vegetable worth celebrating for it’s flavour, health benefits and easy-to-grow rating. It’s nutritional value includes antibacterial and anti-fungal properties (known to help fight off the common cold) and help with heart and blood health. But even before you get around to eating it, garlic is handy to have in your veggie patch; serving as a natural fungicide and aphid deterrent. If you’re new to the garlic game, here are some pointers that will help you join the harvest next year.
In cool to temperate parts of the country, you can plant garlic cloves February - April and/or October – November. In more tropical parts though, the best time for planting is April – June. When planting, leave the papery layer around your cloves and always plant cloves with the pointy tip facing up. Be careful deciding which cloves you want to plant - not too big, nor too small! Very large bulbs often divide into two and grow as twin plants that produce lopsided bulbs. Rustic and potentially entertaining, yes - but not ideal.
Urban growers! You can plant garlic in small(ish) spaces such as raised beds but make sure they get enough sun as garlic enjoy warm soil. You can plant cloves pretty close together (4 inches apart) but remember that the closer you plant them, the smaller your cloves will be.
It’ll take 45-60 days for stalks to grow and 180-270 before you’ll get bulbs. Your planted cloves will need to be watered daily for the first 8 weeks, then every other day until the month before harvest when 1-2 times per week is fine.
In the kitchen:
You can eat the stalks! These have a milder garlic taste and can be harvested at any time while you wait for your bulbs to mature. They are great in Asian dishes, used in a similar way to spring onions.
Now, you’re not a true garlic lover until you’ve tried Lebonese garlic sauce. It’s light, creamy, punchy and totally addictive! Here’s a quick and simple recipe:
1 cup garlic cloves peeled (roughly 3 heads of garlic)
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups canola oil
1/4 cup lemon juice (about one lemon)
1. Place the garlic cloves and salt in a large food processor and puree until smooth. It's a good idea to scrape down the sides two or three times to ensure that all of the garlic is finely processed.
2. Turn the machine back on and slowly drizzle in the oil through the lid starting with 1/2 cup. After the first 1/2 cup has been added, pour in a teaspoon of the lemon juice.
3. Continue alternating between 1/2 cup of the canola oil and a teaspoon of the lemon juice until you've added all of the oil and lemon juice. Alternating between the two is the key to proper emulsification which creates the light and fluffy garlic sauce.
4. You know it's done when the sauce is white and thick with a similar consistency of mayonnaise. It usually takes about 10-15 minutes.
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