Spring Garlic—What Is It And How To Use It

Spring Garlic is similar to green onions in appearance, but with a mild garlic flavor. As a bonus, they are prolific growers, so you can have these year after year.

I’m always looking for a new food to try in the kitchen. It’s even better when I can experiement with a locally grown ingredient that is inexpensive and abundant.

Enter Spring Garlic

First what is it?

Some refer to this as wild garlic, although we grow a row on purpose. It comes back every year and in fact multiplies if we don’t keep it under control. This garlic does not produce large bulbs like you will find on cultivated garlic, but it is still quite delicious. There are several parts of this plant I use at different times of the year.

Parts to use

Spring garlic does not produce large root bulbs, so don’t expect to use this for cloves of garlic. Instead, in the early spring, it is used like green onions, except with the taste of garlic. Later, as it prepares to flower, the end of the flower stalk can be snapped off and cooked. These are referred to as scapes. (This post gives more information about using those.)

After a week or so of growth beyond the scape stage, you can harvest bulbils. These occur just before the bud begins to break open into a flower and provide another tasty option. Pick the flower bud, peel back the thin covering and separate the tiny bulbs. These give a delicious pop of garlic flavor in any dish.

Early stalk use

The rest of this post will describe how to use the early part that looks like a green onion.

Harvest when the bottom is just beginning to swell and the green shoots are about one to two feet tall. While you are harvesting for the table, you are also thinning out the crop to allow the remaining plants to grow and thrive. Trim the root ends and peel back the outer layer of more fibrous covering. Wash thoroughly to remove any remaining dirt particles.

Slice thinly just up to where the stalk begins to turn green. Send the remainder to the compost pile.

Use as you would in place of garlic. Beware, this will smell very strong but the flavor is quite light.

Sample Menu

For an entirely garlic themed meal, I used thinly sliced pieces in a lemon and olive oil sauce for pasta. Then, I minced the remaining pieces, mixed with butter and topped italian seasoned scones. Pair with a crisp green salad. Delicious.

For more cooking ideas like this, check out my cooking memoir Simply Delicious. Plus follow our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram social media for daily Five Feline Farm updates.

What I Did With the Tomatoes

Last week I posted about using up the last of the home grown garden tomatoes. As part of the final garden tasks for the year, the plants were removed and the last green tomatoes harvested. These slowly ripen in the garage allowing us the opportunity to have fresh, local tomatoes through a winter freeze.

Attempting to cram too many tasks into a day left me with limited time to do something with the tomatoes. So I resorted to a tried and true, relatively quick method of using up a random quantity.

Placing the tomatoes in a colander in the sink, I poured boiling water over them then rinsed in cold water. This made peeling easier. The next step was to squeeze out the seeds, quarter and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkled with my favorite Tuscan Sunset Herb blend from Penzey’s and drizzled with olive oil, these baked at 350º convection for about 45 minutes.

The baked tomatoes were dumped into a stock pot and blended with an immersion blender. (If you do not have one of these awesome kitchen gadgets, you need one. Stop reading right now and order on Amazon. Several inexpensive models are available and it is worth it.) Back to the tomato sauce: season to taste with salt and pepper, then keep warm while making the rest of the meal.

This is a super versatile sauce, but sometimes there is nothing like simple spaghetti noodles with this fresh sauce topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese. I added a quick salad and cheesy bread. Simple, satisfying and fresh.

This meal did not use up all of the sauce; what is left will make a tasty lasagna several days later. I will layer wide noodles with sauce, mozzarella and ricotta. Lasagna always makes enough for leftovers and is even better the second time around in my opinion.

At the end of this round of sauce, which took less than an hour of active time, we will have at least three meals. Not bad for November tomatoes.

I still intend to get out the Julia Child cookbooks, but when you run out of time during the day and just need to get something quick on the table; fix an old favorite and don’t apologize.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Plus if you are coming to the Mercantile on Saturday, order pies and scones by 5:00 PM on Thursday. The Mercantile will be open every Saturday through December 21, 2019 with special hours on Black Friday.

Tomatoes in November?

Yes! We still have a few ripe garden tomatoes.

It has frosted here in Central Illinois and the tomato plants are gone from the garden which means the remaining green and half ripe ones are in the garage to slowly finish ripening. End of the season tomatoes are not sizeable enough for slicing, although diced or quartered onto a salad still tastes fresh and amazing. Most of the remaining will be used as cooking tomatoes. Only a few are ripe at a time, so it becomes a challenge to use up varying amounts. 

The Options

One option I have used is to juice a couple of small batches and store each in the refrigerator until there is enough to justify getting out the canner. Using this method, I canned 6 more quarts of juice. Now we have the base for 6 more pots of chili, or with some additional seasoning, this could be 24 more Bloody Mary’s. 

Now on the kitchen counter awaits another small group of tomatoes. What to do with these? 

A fresh sauce perhaps? Cooked and pureed with Italian seasonings, these will give a taste of summer in a lasagna or some other pasta dish. 

Or maybe chop along with the end of the garden peppers and make a season ending fresh salsa. 

Following the directions in a previous post about Sunshine Mary’s, I could do a traditional, fresh Bloody Mary with these small numbers of tomatoes.

What if I consult the Julia Child cook books and try a French dish with tomatoes? 

The possibilites abound. Any of these will make for a fine meal. 

And the winner is…..

Come back next week to find out what delicious creation I made.

You can also stay in touch through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Meal in a Bowl

It’s late October at the Farm and we are enjoying the last of garden fresh vegetables. Sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, peppers and lettuce were all harvested before the killing frost.  

Of course I take this bounty as a sign that I should create a new recipe. Add that to my recent infatuation with broth bowls and I’m off to the kitchen to create a meal. 

 I have found that I can flavor a broth easily with the following technique. Pour two cups of bone broth into a 4 cup microwave safe bowl. I use a pyrex measuing cup. For the bone broth, I use either home made or an organic one in a carton. Into the 2 cups of broth, add 1 inch piece of ginger, thinly sliced, 6 to 8 one inch pieces of lemongrass and a couple of peppercorns. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, then let sit while prepping the rest of the ingredients. Heat again just before pouring over the bowl.

What goes in the bowl?

Rice or noodles. If I’m using rice, my favorite is the high protein Cahokia rice grown in Southern Illinois and available on Amazon. It is also reportedly available in some grocery stores. Sometimes I use plain ramen noodles and prepare according to package directions. Plain ramen noodles are now available at my local Walmart. In a pinch, you could probably use just the noodles from the cheap packages and discard the high sodium flavoring packet.

Add some toppings.

Choose a variety of colors of vegetables and proteins to make the bowl interesting. I have been using bite sized chunks of sweet potatoes, julienned carrots, poblano and sweet peppers, strips of chicken breast, plus shreds of spinach. All of the toppings are either oven roasted or steamed before adding to the bowl. I keep each topping separate to place around the top of the bowl.  

Put it all together.

Once all ingredients are ready, assemble the bowl. 

Place the rice or ramen, whichever you are using in the bowl, top with vegetables and a few shreds of fresh spinach. Pour the hot broth over the bowl,  which will slightly tenderize the spinach. Top with cilantro, Sriracha sauce and/or soy sauce as desired.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to find out more about Five Feline Farm. Plus, check out our weekly podcast Farm Chatter to hear us talk about what is happening here at the Farm.