Kendall Black, a volunteer cooking, tasting and testing recipes from Vermont Fresh: A Fruit and Vegetable Handbook recently tested the Roasted Garlic instructions for us. Her notes are below, in italics.
We’ve also included growing, storage and preparation tips for garlic and garlic scapes.
Garlic, which is native to central Asia, dates back thousands of years and is used worldwide. It is unknown precisely when garlic came into mainstream culinary use, but it has been used medicinally since ancient times. If you haven’t ever seen garlic growing, you may have never seen garlic scapes. Like onions, garlic sends up a long stalk in the spring with an immature bud at the top. On garlic, this stalk is very curly at the end. If left to mature, it will form a capsule filled with bulbils, which will eventually fall from the plant and cause it to re-seed itself (genetically speaking, the offspring are the clone of the parent garlic). Growing garlic from bulbils, however, results in small heads of garlic, so many growers choose to grow garlic by planting cloves instead. In this case, the scapes are cut off so the plant can put its energy into producing a larger subsurface bulb. The scapes themselves are a tasty treat.
In Vermont, garlic should be planted in the fall about four weeks before the ground begins to freeze regularly (this allows the garlic to take root but not to form above-ground growth that will get damaged by cold). For planting, choose several heads and break them into cloves, being careful to leave the cloves intact. Each clove will ultimately form one full head of garlic. The larger the starting clove, the larger the resulting head will be. Plant cloves between 2-4 inches deep with the pointy end up and mulch thickly with straw or hay. Leave 4-6 inches between cloves. Plants will sprout the following spring. Keep them well weeded and apply compost at least once. Harvest scapes (which are only found on hardneck varieties) when long and curly. Harvest bulbs when lower leaves have dried down (using a garden fork if necessary). Allow to “cure” (air-dry) in a dim, dry area for 2-3 weeks.
For homegrown garlic, trim tops and roots after curing. Bulbs should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place. Softneck varieties will store longer than hardneck varieties. Scapes should be refrigerated in a plastic bag and used as soon as possible. Scapes are also great pickled. Garlic cloves can also be peeled and frozen.
Regardless of how you prepare the garlic, you will first need to pull the cloves off the bulb and peel them. To peel, squash the clove gently with the flat of a knife, breaking the papery skin. You may wish to rinse cloves after peeling to wash off any gritty residue. Garlic can be eaten raw, roasted, sautéed, and added to countless dishes, including soups, sauces, and spreads.
Garlic has been used for hundreds of years as a cure-all to battle various types of illness, from those as simple as the common cold to much more complex diseases. The pungent herb may aid in battling certain cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and high blood pressure. Garlic also contains a lot of sulfur and vitamin C.
Meatless Monday Recipe: Roasted Garlic
(adapted from Joy Wilson: joythebaker.com)
- 1 head garlic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat toaster oven or oven to 400°F.
- Using a sharp knife, chop the top (pointy end) off the head of garlic, trying to slice through the top of most of the cloves so the flesh is exposed.
- Place the garlic on a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to wrap around it. Drizzle olive oil into the head so it sinks down between the cloves.
- Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, then wrap up in foil, place on baking sheet, and roast for 35 minutes or until completely tender.
- Allow to cool slightly before handling, then squeeze the cloves out of their skins. Try serving spread on warm bread.
Garlic head: $1, and the olive oil cost about $.25. Total cost: $1.25.
The garlic bulb I purchased may have been larger than the one in the recipe because it took 10 minutes longer for the larger cloves to get pasty. This recipe took me 50 minutes including cooling time.
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