Today's post is an experiment for me this year. I have grown garlic for the last few years, and it is one of my favourite things to grow: when it comes from your own back yard and it is as fresh as it gets, one clove equals two or three in a recipe. Garlic is really one of those super foods that is a natural anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, a fabulous anti-inflammatory power house, it's reportedly beneficial to heart health, lends a hand in the uptake of certain minerals, is a boon to your liver's detox work in helping keep cancer at bay, I mean the list goes on and on. Oh yes, it's high in Selenium (brilliant for your liver and your thyroid), Manganese (for blood sugar support, good for collagen/skin building, detoxification), vitamin C (immune, natural anti-histamine, skin support, liver detox) and vitamin B6 (metabolism, digestion, numerous enzyme processes in the body especially brain and nervous health, and liver detox too). So all of your organs just called me, and said thanks for the garlic love. NOW GET TO IT.
I have a few ways of keeping the garlic going strong through the winter months, and may touch on those in the coming days as I am just about to harvest my own patch this week. It first needs to dry though, and I'm itching to try something new this year so when I stopped by the Italian Store yesterday by Deerfoot and McKnight Blvd NE and saw they had fresh locally harvested hard-neck garlic for a good price available, I scooped up 10 heads of the stuff. It cost me all of $8.16. While I was there waiting for the fresh arugula to be brought in from the warehouse for my intended pesto, I came across some fantastic Fido-brand glass jars, little swing-top jars made in Italy, with the glass rated to withstand the pressure build-up (to a certain extent; one still needs to be careful) of a ferment so I picked a few new jars to add to my collection. (If you plan to do something like this honeyed garlic, I strongly urge you to consider doing it in a rated jar that can withstand the pressure build up. Those cheap glass jars at your discount kitchen store ain't going to cut it.) The Italian Store, should you want to visit in yyc, can be found here.
I have been wanting to try this honeyed garlic "ferment" ever since my sister gave it a whirl a few months ago and raved about it. As far as I can tell, it's not really a ferment but really rather just a sweet way to preserve the garlic. There's a great online post at one of my favourite fermenting blogs about it, up at Killer Pickles. There she explains the nitty gritty details and background on preparing this concoction, I highly recommend you do a little light reading before you launch into this. Especially if you are fearing botulism; she addresses that elephant in the room.
THE HOW-TO: It's so stinking easy. I bought fresh garlic, (if you plan to make this, ensure it's fresh and not sprouting yet (here I'd urge you to go organic or better yet, local)), I peeled it and layered it in a Fido jar with some good quality raw local honey in layers, I made sure that the garlic cloves were fully smothered on top. If you don't have a Fido jar, a Mason jar or Golden Harvest jar will do just fine. The honey has to be raw (aka unpasteurized; it will tell you on the label or you will know because you asked the gal or guy who made it) because of the naturally occurring yeasts that will be doing the work of alchemy here. I made sure to leave a few inches of clearance at the top, as this baby should start bubbling soon, I'd hate to lose any of the honey. I tucked the jar in my pantry, and I'll be making sure to flip it once or twice a day to re-coat the cloves as they will float to the top. It should be ready within a month, but this is the kind of thing you can let mellow even longer to see how the flavours alter with time. Tuck it in the fridge, and dip in when the flu comes to town! Or you need to make a salad dressing! Or roast a bird!
CAVEAT: this is not a food to feed to small children under the age of 2, nor is it something you'd want to offer to someone whose immune system is compromised. I always lean towards caution, so use your noggin here my friends if/when you make this.
Can't wait until mid-September to try these jewels in recipes! Oh yes, I used creamed honey as it's what I had on hand, but I had also done research to find out if that had been done before and I was assured this would work fine. When in contact with the garlic after a few days, this creamed honey should turn more liquid. Indeed, one day in already and the honey appears to have partially 'melted'. Also, start with a layer of honey in the bottom of the jar: I wished I had done this. But so far, the honey has already melted to the bottom of the jar and appears to be covering the garlic. CAN'T. WAIT.
How do you preserve garlic? I'd love to know! I hope to have an over-abundance of the fresh guys in about a week's time. Hit me with your favourite ways to put them up! And if you're thinking you'd like to plant some garlic for next year's harvest, know that it needs to go in the ground in the fall, sometime mid-September to mid-October. You don't need anything fancy, you can plunk it right in with your flower beds. They're great at keeping rabbits and rodents out of your garden, plus you get to eat the bulbs. Right now is the best time to order it so that you can get it in before the snow flies. I get mine from a little outfit in Boundary, BC called The Garlic Farm. Check them out, and order soon! And let me know if I can add to your order, I may not be able to save any cloves from this year's harvest because I'll be eating them ALL.